360 Feedback: The Secret Tool to Discover Your Leadership Blind Spots

Updated: April 15, 2021

As a leader, do you wonder how people perceive your leadership? What they’re really thinking?

I hope so! It’s super important to your success. A secret ingredient, you might say.

What if you could read people’s minds to see how they perceive things like…

  • Your moods and stress levels
  • Your time and workload
  • Your relationships with colleagues
  • The performance of your employees

Well, you CAN!

How? You use a valid, reliable 360 feedback survey. This kind of tool gives you constructive, anonymous feedback on your performance with incredibly powerful results.  

A 360 gives you the truest read on how effective you are in your role because you get feedback not just from your manager, but also your peers, your direct reports, and other stakeholders.

Everyone has strengths to leverage. Everyone also has blind spots. When you discover how others experience your leadership, and you make changes to improve, your career can skyrocket!

How does a 360 process work? 

Here are the steps (and it can be done 100% virtually!).

1. Select your raters 

Raters usually include your manager and selected peers, direct reports, and internal stakeholders. Sometimes even customers. 

2. Notify raters 

Let your raters know they’ll receive an anonymous survey and that you value their time and their honest input.  

3. Schedule your feedback session 

When all raters have completed the survey, schedule a feedback session with your 360 consultant to unpack the results. You should come away with key things you want to keep doing, stop doing, and start doing. 

4. Share key learnings 

Let your raters know what you learned and how you’ll be working to improve. Don’t skip this! It’s really important for people to know their feedback was heard and valued. 

5. Make a development plan 

Work with a coach to modify your behaviors according to the feedback. If you can’t get a coach ask a mentor or trusted friend to help you stay accountable for changing behavior. This is critical. 

6. Measure your growth 

After 9-12 months re-survey to see how you’ve moved the needle. Then celebrate your growth! And thank your raters for their input in shaping your leadership.

What can you learn from a 360?  

Let’s look at an example of one of my favorite 360-degree feedback surveys, the Hogan. If you’d like a short video description of the value of the Hogan 360 tool just click here.

This is for a leader named Maria Sample (you guessed it… not a real person).  

Maria’s overall score is a 6.3 on a scale of 1-7. 

Here she can see how she scored in the four themes that comprise Hogan’s Leadership Model: 


How do you manage your energy, your emotions, and your reputation?

Relationship Management 

How are you doing with getting results through relationships? Cultivating team engagement? 

Working in the Business  

How is your experience level, capability and efficiency for the day to day tasks? How is your prioritization of work and goal setting? 

Working on the Business  

How much are you adding value through innovation, strategic planning, and team building? How effectively do you use planning cycles and challenge poor performers? 

Now Maria can go deeper into each of these quadrants to get more insight… 

What can Maria can take away from this data goldmine? 

  • She knows how to get stuff done! Her “Working in the Business” overall score of 6.5 is strong. 
  • She could spend some time working on Self-Management, particularly with showing resilience. 
  • She scores herself higher than what others score her in most cases. Doing this 360 will be an important correction in her self-perception. 
  • In all cases her scores are higher than the global average. So, she’s a stronger leader than most! 

Maria can drill down further into each theme to see the specific statements raters evaluated her on. She can also spot trends in the rater groups. Super helpful! In the example below, we see her direct reports give her higher marks than her peers. Maria will want to consider ways to bolster her relationships with peers going forward. 

And remember, you get good news in a 360 feedback survey, too! Who doesn’t want to know what their top strengths are perceived to be? Here are Maria’s: 

Why a leader might hesitate to do a 360

Well, it can be a little scary. I get it. It requires courage and vulnerability to ask people to rate you candidly.  

But consider what it demonstrates to your team: Transparency and humility.  

When people see these qualities in a leader, trust goes up. Not only are you getting feedback to inform your development, you’re also modeling vulnerability and honesty to your team.  

Win, win! 

Here’s another thing leaders sometimes wonder… 

Why ask for anonymous feedback if I want a culture of trust? Shouldn’t people tell me directly what they think of my leadership? 

 Ideally, yes.

But it’s highly unlikely they will do so with quality. Here’s why: 

  • There’s rarely a specific invitation for a performance discussion with the boss. They have to be bold enough to initiate that. Not likely. 
  • Even if you do get feedback it will not be as full-bodied and multi-faceted as a 360 report. There are questions and angles in a 360 that most people don’t think of. 
  • People simply fear retribution. What is the cost of giving honest feedback directly to the boss? It’s a risk many are not willing to take. 

What’s holding you back? 

See how you can use multiple viewpoints to better understand your strengths, your challenge areas, and to course correct for better performance?  

This is why many executive coaches use a 360 tool as part of a coaching engagement. 

According to Forbes.com, “One of the most important components of executive coaching is the 360 degree feedback that the coach gathers…about their strengths and development needs, how they are perceived, and what they need to do in order to achieve a higher level of performance and positive impact.”  

I couldn’t agree more! 

Don’t keep operating with your blind spots holding you and your team back.  If you’re serious about developing your leadership and improving self-awareness, let’s do this together. I’d be honored to walk with you, from startup to coaching, through this process

Let’s watch your leadership abilities rocket to the next level! 

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