I have a few case studies on this one, so I am going to briefly discuss the one that I struggled with the most! I will use a different name to protect confidentiality.
Jeremy is in a senior Leadership role, managing a small team. He demonstrated passion about his work and his internal and external customers. No one doubted his hard work ethic or his drive to be successful. Jeremy shared with me that he believed he was a good leader, not great, but getting the job done. However a recent climate survey provided some specific feedback about his style being seen an arrogant, defensive and problematic. He expressed surprise at the feedback, and questioned the results. He questioned if newer staff really “knew him” and expressed some suspicion regarding some of his peer group being too harsh. This started to open a can of worms!
This lead to blaming others, which I believed was his way to deflect, defer and redirect the feedback all together. I was fairly sure underneath he felt he had failed, but the behaviour he was demonstrating to protect his sense of failure and pride (namely defensiveness and some aggression) made it hard for his peers and boss to be supportive. While I was able to recognise what this unhelpful behaviour may represent, it can be hard for others. Particularly when they are the brunt of it!
Sadly, not uncommon and hard to work with.
What happened to Jeremy?
Jeremy struggled to let go of his pride. I believe he felt it was a weakness to admit fault. Unfortunately this lead to him becoming a victim, saying things like “This is not fair, I work hard”, and “It is there problem, not mine”. We worked together for 9 months, and as we approached our last session I was concerned I was the one who had failed! However at his last session, the penny appeared to have dropped. His victim style language had shifted to owning his part and what he planned to do to change. I was delighted, relieved and at the risk of sounding haughty, I was proud of him. He had chosen a new path.
A fair go
If Leaders have no idea of their style, I think it is unfair to expect them to change.
Some Leaders I have worked with get it on the first pass or session, while others take longer.
I caught up with Jeremy’s boss just last week (6 months after we finished working together) and the feedback was still very positive. He had gone from “bad to good”, now “heading towards great”. It may have taken him a while but he seemed to have really “got it”. (A side note here, some of the early adopters don’t always get it – it can take 6-12 months for behaviour change to integrate).
There is more research now regarding the effectiveness of 360 feedback. This can be a big investment in time and money, and may not be the right time. You can use the Better Leader Barometer interchangeably as a self-assessment, a multi-rater or complete 360 tool. It is simple and best of all, free!
I hope you get some value from it.
Warmly, Margie Ireland
Leadership Coach | Psychologist | Speaker