Lessons Learned from a BRUTAL 360 degree Leadership Assessment

Apr 20, 2010, Written by Sue Miley

ldrshipassesment360When I was working in the corporate world I had a mentor/boss who must have told me a 100 times:

“The value of a leader is determined by how well your area/department/business runs once you move on, not how well it runs while you are there.”

His point is that a leader develops others.  A leader prepares people to become independent, perform and to lead others themselves.

Jesus taught servant leadership to His disciples ex. washing their feet, healing on the Sabbath, teaching them how to pray, etc.

He taught by serving.

As Christian small business owners sometimes we get so caught up in all of the hats we are wearing that we don’t acknowledge the importance of our leadership role.

Have you ever said,

“Everything would be great if I just didn’t have to deal with the employees.  I’m not good at that.”

Well, I would contend that you have to get good at it.  I am assuming since there are a gazillion books written on leadership, seminars in every city of the world, and a multitude of leadership experts on the speaking circuit that you can learn leadership!

If you can learn how to sell, do brain surgery, program computers, and/or whatever your business specializes, you can learn to lead.  I won’t try to teach Leadership 101 in a 1000 word blog, but I will give you a few good reasons why you should care about being a good leader and a couple of ways to get prepared to begin your journey!

Why Should You Care About Becoming a Good Leader?

  • people work for people.  Even if they love the cause or the work they do, people will not do computer programming, brain surgery or sell your widgets for you for long if they do not respect your leadership.
  • the goals of your business will never be achieved if you do not lead your team toward them.
  • you will always work a million hours and where a ton of hats if you do not develop your team (a key leadership skill) to work with enthusiasm, excellence, independence and as a contributing team member.

I would write more, but if the fact that:

  • YOU WON’T KEEP YOUR PEOPLE
  • YOU WON’T ACHIEVE/SUSTAIN YOUR GOALS
  • YOU WILL ALWAYS CARRY THE BRUNT OF THE WORKLOAD

doesn’t convince you that your role as a leader in your business is paramount, adding another 10 bullet points probably won’t either.

I fortunately learned this early on, but unfortunately, the hard way.  I was about 26 or 27 years old and promoted to my first real management job.  I had supervised one or two employees prior to this position, but this was the first real team I lead.  I was a notorious “personal producer”.  I made a name for myself in the company by getting involved in every project, in any and every department.  I was assigned.  I volunteered.  I begged and bartered to participate.

So here I am with a staff of 6 or 7 other professionals and I am nowhere to be found.  Actually, I am everywhere.  I am still running around helping everyone else with their projects, leaving my team leaderless, directionless and frustrated.

The comes the ever loving 360 degree assessment.  My first 360.  It was brutal. My bosses praised me.  My peers worshipped me.  My staff had disdain for me. I remember reading and re-reading the results over and over again. Maybe they got the little circles backwards and thought that 1 was the highest rank, not 5.

I went through all of the stages of grief – once past denial and anger – I got to work.  I put a plan together to change me.  I decided that I was going to be a better leader than personal producer.  To do this I had to prepare myself!!

How to Prepare for Your Leadership Journey?

  1. Accept the importance of your role as Leader of your small business. Read the list above again if you still aren’t there!
  2. Block out your calendar. If you had any other project, proposal, objective or goal you would have to prioritize it and schedule time to achieve it.  You have to do the same thing to develop your leadership skills and then you have to KEEP doing it to actually LEAD.
  3. Prioritize. One way to prioritize is to block out time but that is only one step.  Commit to it.  Tell your team that they are your priority.  Tell them verbally.  Show them in your actions.  Show them with your time.

I know… you are wondering how you will get everything done. Remember that becoming a good leader will develop your team to share the work.  Why?

Why your strong leadership produces more out of your team!

  • Because now they know where they are going.
  • Now they understand their responsibilities and what is expected of them.
  • Now they are empowered and fully delegated the responsibility to achieve.
  • Now they have a leader to turn to that gives full attention to equipping, training, mentoring and serving them.

Yes, it may be painful at first.  When I was on my mission to excel in leadership I had to double down.  I had to make time for my team, educate myself on leadership skills, and still live up to all the commitments I made all over the company to everyone as a personal producer.  This resulted in several 4 am starts reading leadership books, and many a 8 pm evenings finishing off a report for one of the projects.

This lasted about 4 months.  I posted office hours and promised my staff 3-4 hour blocks of time in the middle of the day each day that I would be fully available to them.  We had sign-up sheets during the first couple of months so people could have their time.

After a month or two, the staff had direction, got their questions answered, and had reviewed their work enough that their confidence was built up.  They began to handle things more independently.  They were taking over most of my projects.  Soon I was sitting in my office alone for several hours a day.  Then I knew that this focused effort could subside.

My next 360 showed a drastically different picture.  Soon I was moved from department to department to build the team.  Trust me, when I was named Corporate Controller, it wasn’t for my accounting skills….it was for leadership.

How are you going to step back and build a successful business if you are doing it all by yourself?  I know it is an investment, but if you own your own business, focusing on your leadership skills will produce a phenomenal ROI.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Johanna Landreneau says

    Very helpful. I loved how you used an actual example from your experience to drive home the point. Thanks Sue.

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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