Where should you focus most of your improvement efforts: boosting your strengths or getting better in your weak areas?

The answer may surprise you and it has massive implications for the way you manage and lead others. But first, you have to know your strengths and weaknesses through performing a Leadership Assessment.

Dive into this article and get ready to rock your world.

Every business wants to ensure it has effective leaders in the C-Suite. According to the Harvard Business Review, the most important skills for top-level executives are those in key leadership areas.

The 360° leadership assessment tool has been used for years to develop leadership qualities through feedback from peers, employees, and managers. The use of this tool creates strong motivation and provides specific focus employees and employers can use to improve leadership skills and performance.

What is a 360° Assessment?

A 360° assessment is a method of conducting an evaluation which, as the name implies, gathers input from all possible angles. Specifically, the feedback comes from employees who report to an executive, peers within the company, the person’s supervisor, and maybe even the boss’s boss.

We use the term 360° assessment because it gathers perceptions of the person’s leadership strengths and areas of potential improvement from a circle of eight to 10 employees.

How 360° Assessments Work

Often, the way we see ourselves is quite different from how others see us. This can lead to misunderstandings, because while a business leader believes their actions speak for themselves, others may have a different view of events.

With a 360° assessment, incumbents get feedback from people all around them that helps to determine their strengths, developmental areas, and any challenges that exist.

Based on the DiSC® behavioral model, 360° assessments support leadership development, coaching conversations, team-building efforts, and the individual development planning process.

When you implement this model, you support executives’ leadership journeys by:

  • Identifying the areas of strength (and areas needing improvement) related to important leadership abilities,
  • Allowing individuals to see how others view them,
  • Guiding the planning and implementation of a personalized leadership growth strategy, and
  • Serving as a benchmark in individuals’ leadership development.

It’s not just about “fixing” weaknesses, either.

Many people have been hardwired by family, school, and the workplace to believe the best formula for success and career advancement is to overcome areas of weakness.

However, a Gallup study of over 200,000 managers shows individuals’ greatest opportunities for advancement lie in their strengths – a complete opposite of the original thinking. Most people don’t ask the seemingly obvious questions, such as:

  • How can I use my strengths in more areas of my work?
  • How can I strengthen a strength?
  • How can I more effectively help others, especially direct reports, identify and use their strengths?

Understandably, we all strive to overcome weaknesses, particularly when it has a negative impact on productivity. But here’s the fun part: Our best opportunities for world-class performance lie in our strengths.

Fixing weaknesses usually helps us prevent failure, but it doesn’t necessarily bring us closer to complete success.

Here are the eight primary skills top-performing leaders should aspire to.

8 Skills for Top Performing Leaders to Achieve

1. Communication Skills. Communication is the process of transmitting information or concepts in ways that avoid or resolve conflict. It enables people to:

  • Hold constructive meetings,
  • Express facts and opinions understandably and convincingly, and
  • Listen well and consider others’ opinions before coming to conclusions.

Good communicators typically don’t interrupt others. They are masters of self-awareness and self-management and cope well in stressful situations.

2. Decision-Making Ability. Decision-making is the process executives use to consciously select one option from a choice of possible alternatives, based on the best information at hand. A characteristic of strong decision-making is the ability to influence others to support the choice based on the use of sound, logical evaluation, and discussion.

3. Creative Thinking and Innovation. Strong leaders develop work environments that encourage creative thinking and innovation. They encourage workers to take justifiable risks and to be open to change and new information.

They adapt their behavior and work methods in response to changing conditions. They tolerate ambiguity and overcome unexpected obstacles while identifying opportunities to develop new products and services.

4. Relationship Building. Executives displaying effective leadership show an aptitude for building relationships. They create environments that encourage input and feedback, listen attentively, respond positively, and value alternative concepts and cultural differences.

By fostering an atmosphere of cooperation and achievement, they establish and maintain good working relationships with subordinates, peers, supervisors, suppliers, and customers.

5. Motivational Skills. Most companies expect C-level executives to create a vision or goal for their business unit and motivate subordinates to implement it successfully. An effective leader empowers others by mentoring, delegating responsibility, fostering good working relationships, and acting selflessly and with integrity.

With strong motivational skills born of caring and understanding, a leader can build trust and commitment among workers.

6. Coaching Skills. Leaders carry a heavy responsibility to identify their employees’ best attributes, values, and behaviors and address any gaps they discern. Doing this requires helping subordinates clarify their work goals and actively seek to develop the skills they need to achieve them.

Robust coaching skills allow leaders to continually challenge workers to improve their performance, while providing frequent, helpful development discussions and feedback.

7. Focusing on Strengths. Successful business executives focus much of their time on developing and using their strengths, and a smaller amount of time trying to overcome their shortfalls. These leaders realize the importance of recognizing the strengths of others. They help colleagues and subordinates to identify their own individual strengths and find ways to incorporate them into their work.

8. Team Building Skills. An effective leader can motivate a group of diverse individuals to work together effectively to achieve a purpose, regardless of personal goals, needs, and perspectives. To do this, the leader must understand the roles and responsibilities across the group and encourage mutual accountability for successes and failures.

Executives aiming to become strong leaders can use the 360° assessment tool to evaluate their level of expertise in these various skills. This exercise will help them to identify their strengths and weaknesses, so they can formulate a leadership development plan based on optimizing the former and correcting the latter.

Why Use the Leadership Effectiveness 360° Tool?

The Leadership Effectiveness 360° report is designed to compare the results of individual and peer perceptions in the preceding eight key leadership skills and reveal potential areas for improvement.

A critical factor in using this tool is that it must be safe to share the information with the individual and to expect it to be constructively received.

Since the feedback in the report is anonymous as long as a minimum of three people respond, it provides a unique evaluation of the subject’s leadership skills from different perspectives. This improves the individual’s ability to adapt and develop by providing a better understanding of both themselves and others.

If you have questions or would like to follow up and learn more about how assessments can help you hire smarter and develop highly-effective managers and leaders, get in touch.