The behavior of leaders is a very powerful indicator of how a company truly operates from a people perspective. Which aspects of the business are mostly focused on by leaders? How are decisions made and communicated? Most change initiatives include specific behaviors which leaders need to role model in order to ensure a successful outcome for the initiative.
The typical approach to measure how leaders are behaving is to obtain input from those around each leader – those who interact with the leader on a regular basis. The groups of people asked to provide ratings for each leader could be:
- People who report to the leader
- People who are colleagues of the leader
- People who are more senior than the leader
- If appropriate – external parties who interact with the leader on a regular basis.
Process of assessing leaders
The process of assessing leadership behavior typically follows these basic steps: Collecting ratings, consolidating the ratings, providing feedback to leaders and using the results to plan further actions as needed.
The mechanism needed for this exercise needs to be developed, reviewed and agreed and then introduced before the process starts. Once the key behavioral elements are defined, create a way to capture feedback from others about leadership behaviors.
The resource above can be downloaded. It is a set of behavioral statements which can be shared with those who need to provide ratings and comments. The scores or ratings relate to actual behavior observed against desired behaviors for each leader that they interact with on a regular basis. Some people automate their chosen feedback gathering using a free tool like http://www.surveymonkey.com
- Behaviors used for ratings have to be very well defined so that they can be observed and does not require someone to guess at the intentions or motivations of the leader. A behavior must be observable or produce visible results.
- Ask raters to add comments to help you interpret the scores. This understanding enables the creation of realistic follow-up actions after the results are available.
- Ratings should not be requested too often – raters get “survey-fatigue” and your results become less meaningful.
- The objective is for the tool to support the leaders by providing helpful and actionable feedback. The tool also helps to understand how the change initiative is progressing towards desired milestones.
You will notice in the shared resource (tool) example that leadership behaviors were defined in 4 categories: Commitment Behaviors, Communication Behaviors, Teamwork/Collaboration Behaviors, and Safety Behaviors. Your categories will be determined by your own change initiative and you will need to also define the specific behaviors that are desirable for leaders given your project. Simply use the downloaded excel sheet and type over the category names and behavior definitions to create your own Leadership Behavior Scorecard.
- Be careful when you consolidate the results from various raters. If you had agreed to keep rater identities confidential, summarize the results by subgroup. Provide an average per subgroup for each of the behavioral elements. Do not provide a subgroup score if there were less than 3 raters.
- Follow-up actions should also include recognition/appreciation for those leaders who are role modeling the desired behaviors in the organization.
- Consider using some examples from the higher ratings to create case studies to the organization. It is easier for leaders and employees to understand how to apply desired behaviors when they receive actual examples that illustrate how decisions were made or implemented using the desired behaviors. An example makes it easier for others to follow.
The tool is relatively simple to use, but it is vital that it is designed well and introduced correctly into the organization. Assessment tools can be seen as a negative element if the objectives and the way results will be used are not communicated appropriately.