What if you could receive feedback from those you work with – about your strengths and about your development opportunities – in their own words? While it would be helpful if those we work with would provide us with honest, real-time stakeholder feedback, that rarely happens organically.
Candid feedback is invaluable to leadership development and will help you perform better in your current role, or build the competencies needed so you are ready for your next opportunity. If you truly want to grow as a leader and develop high impact goals, your best bet is having a coach conduct interviews to gather stakeholder feedback.
Stakeholder Feedback vs. 360 Tools
You may be wondering how stakeholder interviews differ from the input you get from 360’s. 360’s are typically conducted with tools that help leaders gather data on how they are perceived by those working closely with them. These online tools allow participants to provide ratings across a variety of competencies and then calculate numerical scores on each rated category. When you participate in a 360, you know who the participating raters are, but their input is fed back by category (boss, peers, direct reports, etc.) so individual input is anonymous.
Similarly, while you and your boss will choose the interviewees, each person’s input to the stakeholder feedback process is anonymous and designed to synthesize feedback for you. However, instead of asking a group of raters to complete an online instrument rating you, your coach interviews each person to find out how you are perceived. These stakeholder interviews are typically part of a leadership feedback process in conjunction with an executive coaching engagement.
To be more specific, stakeholder interviews are person-to-person conversations with key individuals that surround you in your leadership role. While stakeholder feedback is in some ways similar to the feedback you get from a typical instrument-based 360, it differs in two ways that I believe result in much higher impact.
Personalized, Robust Information
First, stakeholder interviews can include questions specifically designed to help you as a leader learn what you need to know to continue to grow and develop. While traditional 360 tools often have some capacity to add custom questions, the stakeholder interview process allows your coach to design the questions specifically for you. Are you interested in knowing how you manage during times of change? Your coach can include questions on this topic. Do you want to know what others see as your greatest future potential in the organization? Your coach can ask. In addition, the interviewer has the flexibility to ask follow up questions to clarify your stakeholders’ answers.
Second, the stakeholder interview process allows you to get more robust information about yourself and your leadership. Because this process is interview-based, you will get to see the specific words people use to describe you, your leadership and your opportunities for development. Rather than receiving a numerical rating for a leadership topic such as managing change, you will learn how people describe your ability to manage change. It’s the difference between seeing a rating of 4.3 out of 5.0 in a leadership competency versus seeing comments such as “John has a calm demeanor and that helps him manage change and uncertainty.”
After the completion of the stakeholder interviews, your coach will put together a report summarizing the findings. This gives you a view into how you are perceived in your organization. The summary report shares the overall themes and trends the interviewer heard and highlights the information with quotes from the conversations.
Stakeholder interviews give you a window into what those around you see as your strengths and your opportunities for continued development as a leader. Armed with that information you will be able to consider which goals will propel your leadership forward. How could interviews to gather stakeholder feedback help you grow as a leader?