On Tuesday, September 5, the DEEL team ventured to the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, NC to experience a three day training which included feedback from a 360 degree assessment that we completed a few weeks earlier. As a team we asked our peers, direct reports, supervisors and immediate bosses to complete a survey of over 50 questions to help us receive data on how to develop as leaders – hence a 360 approach.
On our first day there we focused on team building and our interpersonal skills as leaders. As we looked at various assessment results we reflected on how we expressed ourselves toward others and what we wanted from others as leaders. The reflection continued as we thought about ourselves as leaders and the direction we are moving as a team and how we align our priorities. Two months ago when we began the journey as a team, our excitement and energy could not be contained or defined. It was the nervousness of embarking into the unknown combined with the joy of knowing we would blaze trails to set teachers on career paths, something never before done in Pitt County. This week we discovered that as we grow and develop as leaders, it is important for us to understand our own personalities as we interact and impact change moving forward.
We learned there are three different ways we all approach change, and it is important to know and understand others’ perspective when being a part of a team. When we take on the mindset of flexibility we can maximize our effectiveness. As we undergo our own individual transitions we are finding our own individual and group identities, which helps us all navigate the new territory before us.
While as leaders we have to be cognizant of our intent because they are driven by our actions, we also need to remember that others don’t see our intent, they only see our actions. One phrase we found particularly insightful was, “We judge ourselves by our intent but we judge others by their actions.”
On days two and three we dug deep into understanding 360 degree assessments in general. CCL trainers began by teaching us how to read our own report. It was with great anticipation that we all sat and waited and waited, Then it happen – we received our own personal feedback from the 360 assessment. We were able to look through the lenses of our bosses, supervisors, peers, and direct reports to see their perspectives of our leadership. For most of us, the results were very self-affirming and enlightening.
We were guided by trainers to understand that when implementing a 360 assessment, it is important to clarify “the why”. As a newly formed group we have been first partakers in the understanding of how this assessment is to be used to build leadership. It is not for performance appraisal, compensation decisions, or for hiring /dismissal decisions. Our 360 assessments should only be used to guide development as a leader.
We ended the day looking at how and why 360 Assessments should be administered, and we began preparing to facilitate a practice 360 debrief session with one of our colleagues. The trainers walked us through their basic facilitation model, and we were given homework assignments to prepare as a participant (where we reviewed the contents of our own 360) and as a facilitator (where we prepared to help someone understand their 360). We would also be given the opportunity to be an observer (where we offered feedback to the facilitator to help improve their practice). This was certainly an opportunity to extend our learning!
When we arrived on the last day we had a lot of emotions going into the practice sessions. Many of us felt overwhelmed, nervous, and, yes, a little worried. We would be facilitating peers, something we had never done, and master 360 trainers would be observing us to critique and provide feedback. This was different than being a coach or using our Situation Leadership training.
So what is the “why” for us experiencing the 360 Assessment? Here is a graphic one of my DEEL colleagues found illustrating the 360 feedback process, combined with ongoing coaching, to help people reach their full potential:
We have been given an amazing opportunity to impact education in Pitt County. It is not about a select few and what they have. It is about making sure the over 24,000 children in Pitt County Schools are afforded the opportunity to become lifelong learners, and that they are prepared to face the world of business, industry, and life – yes life – after K-12. In an ever changing world we must adapt to change and embrace it with the hope of knowing that together we can make a difference. The training we experienced last week was tremendously impactful. We will use the feedback to improve as leaders and to prepare the next group of leaders both in and out of the classroom. In an effort to improve, we are being stretched to grow as a team with a common mission and goal.
Last week reminded us all that we are both leaders and continuous learners who celebrate children and advance opportunities for both students and children in Pitt County. In the coming months, the first round of Facilitating Teachers will experience the power of having a 360 assessment. We will then guide them in understanding the results and developing a plan for growth based on the feedback they receive.