Perhaps because I fit the demographic, I have been noticing of late in the media, (social and otherwise), through conversations with clients, friends and colleagues, that women in the 50 plus age bracket are under appreciated and underused in the leadership space across industries. This may be because of time taken off due to caring roles or high level responsibility not sought for the same reason. It could be because women, more than men believe that they are not good enough and won’t apply for positions unless they meet all of the criteria. Or it could be because workplaces are not flexible enough for them to manage competing responsibilities. Whatever the reason, this group of women is an untapped resource that has a lot to contribute.
To unapologetically generalise, women in their 50’s have had a lot of experience in the workforce and many have also been in a caring role of some kind, whether of children or ageing parents. They are also often active in their communities. Make no mistake, these are leadership roles and the capabilities and behaviours are the same. Some of them are:
Managing unacceptable behaviour
Nothing much phases them they’ve seen it all before and know it will be ok in the end
They understand the importance of family and balance and well being across life
They have made mistakes and have taken responsibility many times over
They lead more from a place of compassion than ego
360 feedback can be an anxiety provoking experience. Having undertaken the assessment myself a few times and also facilitated and coached many people through theirs, I have noticed that the mindset you adopt about both the process and the content is key to your perspective, your reactions, your learning and how much value you gain from the experience.
So What is 360 Feedback?
It is a process, which enables you to find out how the people you work with and influence, experience your leadership. These commonly include direct reports, peers and managers (your raters). Each of your chosen raters, completes a survey in which they rate your leadership behaviours, capability and effectiveness. Apart from (usually) your manager, all of the raters responses are generally anonymous.
Why Engage in 360 Feedback
If you take a look at the Johari Window Model developed by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham in 1955, you will notice that there are four areas of self knowing:
That which we know about ourselves and are happy to share with others
That which we know about ourselves that we do not want others to know and which we hide
That which others know about us, but we don’t know about ourselves: our blind spot
That which is completely unknown by ourselves and others and a potential area for discovery
(For more information about Johari see the link in the references)
360 feedback though the lens of this model, has the potential to help us (depending on our mindset) to increase our self-knowledge and awareness and gain insight into our blind spots in the context of how we work with and lead others. This in conjunction with education, training and/or coaching is a process that is commonly used in leadership development.
Creating a Positive Learning Experience
David Rock (2009) likens the feeling we get prior to impending feedback, akin to that experienced when someone is following you down a dark alley. I think you will agree this is not a useful feeling to have prior to receiving your 360 feedback. Below are some tips that may assist you to reduce this feeling and instead, develop a mindset that is open to learning and growth in this context.
Find a coach who is experienced in facilitating 360 feedback and has a track record of helping people achieve positive results. They should be able to help you identify your strengths, consider your career goals and what broad outcomes you would like to gain from the feedback before you begin
Before your feedback session, consider your career goals. Where do you want to be in 1 year, 3 years, 5?
As you begin to review and unpack your feedback, remind yourself that completing these surveys is not easy and rater’s have taken the time to give you the gift of their opinion. Most people do this from a place of wanting you to do well
Remember that we each see the world as we are, not as it actually is. The raters are also within their own Johari window and generally speaking can only rate your leadership from their perspective. No one can see the whole picture. That is why the feedback is facilitated. So you can be assisted to unpack it and apply it to your situation, role and career gaols
It’s ok to feel emotional about your feedback. It’s a perfectly normal to feel disappointed that you are not perfect and see the negative more than the positive at first. Consider that feedback doesn’t happen in isolation, it occurs in the context of the ups and downs of life, both yours and your raters, so be kind to yourself
Focus on the positives and identified strengths in the first instance. These are your foundation and from these you can build, learn and grow
It is through the process of facilitation and coaching you will be assisted to make sense of your feedback and determine how you want to move forward in your leadership development. You shouldn’t have to do this alone
You don’t have to agree with all of the feedback. Negative feedback can be either general or it can be context specific related to an event, or to a specific day or situation. It’s important to unpack it with your facilitator and discuss and determine what you want to take on board, what you don’t and why.
You don’t have to take on board all of the suggestions for development, even if you agree with them all. No leaders are perfect and everyone will have areas they want to improve, but if you take on too much at once you will be less effective. Consider the top three that relate directly to your role and/or to your career goals. Once you have achieved your goals around those you can always go back and look at other areas.
Zenger and Folkman (2009) talk about fatal flaws in leadership. These are a list of 10 behaviours and qualities that their research indicates characterise the worst leaders. If one of these is identified throughout your feedback, they suggest it needs to be addressed as a priority (i.e. one of your top 3). See the reference list for a link to their article.
I wish you well in your leadership development and if you implement these tips, or not, I would love to hear how 360 feedback went for you. If you are looking for a coach to help you with 360 feedback please get in touch.
A Half Day Introduction to Extended DISC: How to Create a Shared Understanding and Enhance Communication Between Individuals and Within Teams:
Half-Day Workshop: duration 4 hours
Workshop can be delivered to up to 30 people
$199 per person plus GST or
$1100 plus GST for 6 – 15 participants
$2100 Plus GST for 16 – 30 participants
This workshop provides an appreciative inquiry approach to DISC theory. Participants will learn and explore in relation to each behavioural quadrant and combinations thereof: DISC theory and background
DISC and individual strengths
DISC and stress
DISC and blind spots
DISC and communication
DISC in a team (understanding team strengths)
A One Day Extended DISC Team Workshop: Create a Shared Understanding in Your Team
Full Day Workshop: duration 8 hours
As each person required an Extended DISC Profile*, workshop numbers and cost to be negotiated on a case-by-case basis.
This workshop provides an appreciative inquiry approach to DISC theory. Participants will learn and explore in relation to each behavioural quadrant and combinations thereof:
DISC theory and background
DISC and individual strengths
DISC and stress
DISC and blind spots
DISC and communication
Review of Extended DISC Profiles
Understanding DISC in your team
Strengths of individuals
Gaps in the team
Communication within the team
*There is also an opportunity for participants to access one on one profile feedback and coaching post workshop. This will incur an additional cost.
I presented this material about the potential for coaching to help leaders positively influence workplace culture at a recent conference. I would love to know your views and experience of using coaching in culture change.
Looking back on the wonderful leaders I have worked with it is clear that every single one of them know what they stand for as a leader. What I mean by that is, they know what kind of workplace they are aiming for and how they want people to feel about it. They know the standard of service and the results they expect to be delivered and the behaviours that will support that. They know what their values are and are uncomfortable when they are violated.
However, many leaders have difficulty articulating this standard. This is problematic in leadership because if you can’t express where you are leading people too, why and how you expect them to get there, all you can do is tell people what you don’t want.
Similarly a lack of awareness of purpose, beliefs, values and goals, if it occurs in our personal lives can limit us from reaching our true potential. It can create in us the habit of moving away from what we don’t want rather than towards what we do. For example, you may be stuck with beliefs that are no longer relevant. You may be living incongruently with your values and feeling uncomfortable, out of sync. You may be going round and round, rather than moving forward and if you are not true to your purpose you may feel a lack of satisfaction. All of this could have a negative impact on our wellbeing.
The good news is that creating self awareness around this is not hard. It is likely your values and beliefs have always driven the kind of work you have done or are attracted to, the battles you fight, or would like to, the friends you choose and what you spend your money on.
Identifying your purpose is a bit more difficult, but for all of this work luckily there are many books, courses and coaches around to help.
Once you have created your personal purpose, values, beliers and goals, it will be easier for you to create your leadership standard too.
I would love to know your thoughts and experiences on this.
If you would like to find out more about coaching or our online courses for women, give me a call on +61 421 775 924 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have failed this week then I congratulate you! If you have been challenged, have failed, been rejected, feel as though you are just not good enough, then you are out there giving it a go, whatever ‘it’ is for you. You are not just waiting for good things to happen to you, you are taking control and taking some risks to achieve your goals. That takes courage and demands respect.
Two things about this interest me about how women do this, how you do this?
How do you regroup, pick yourself up and try again. This is resilience and persistence, and is an achievement in itself. So take some time to notice how you do that and how you keep doing it every time. Then how do you acknowledge yourself?
How do you capture what you learn and how do you apply it?
I would love to hear your insights about this – please comment in the box below and let’s have a conversation!
Steven Coveys 5th habit is ‘Seek first to understand, then to be understood’.
He says this because “We see the world, not as it is, but as we are or, as we are conditioned to see it.”
We all tend to make meanings of everything we experience as they relate to us. This is understandable, and very human. We have so much information to deal with all the time and this shortcut saves our sanity. It is especially important however, given that we have this tendency, for us as leaders to recognise that the meanings we make of what people say and how they say it, could be different from what they intended. This is because humans tend to make assumptions about what we hear, what we see and what we perceive to be true.
These assumptions can make it difficult to reach a shared understanding about anything, to solve problems, resolve conflict, build relationships and work as a team. I was chatting with two members of a highly functioning team recently and one their core communication strategies is to challenge their own assumptions. It’s a great strategy. One that is so simple and also incredibly difficult to consistently practice. It requires a high level of emotional intelligence and can be split into four parts:
To challenge assumptions we must notice that we are making them. We have to understand ourselves and acknowledge that we all make assumptions, often unconsciously for a lot of the time. We assume people’s intentions, meanings, motivations, thoughts and moods. It saves a lot of time. We couldn’t spend our lives clarifying everything otherwise!
But sometimes we must interrupt this pattern and this is where EI comes in. We have to build our noticing muscle around the assumptions that we make. If we think we have detected an assumption, then we must challenge it.
When you notice you may have made an assumption, ask yourself: “What am I assuming here?”, “How do I know I’m right?” “Where is the evidence for this assumption?” and “What other explanation could there be?”
This puts you in a good frame of mind to be curious and seek evidence for your assumptions
Clarify what you heard or saw to make sure you understand what the other person meant: “you said…did you mean… by that?” “I think I heard you say… is that right?”
Of course when we are having conversations like this we have to really listen to the other person, as opposed to thinking about what we want to say next (we all do it so we might as well admit it!). Rather, try to focus on what they are saying and be truly curious.
When you have sought to understand where someone is coming from, you will be able to respond in a more empathetic way. This will help you to create an environment that invites respect, collaboration and more authentic ‘real’ communication. It’s a win/win for everyone.
Photo: my dog Kim 🙂 Bubbles not real!
Covey, S. R. (1989). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People . 1989, NY: Free Press.
]If you would like some help refining your communication skills, please give me a call or email for a 30 minute discovery session to get you on your way and see if leadership coaching is right for you
This is an interesting quote. I take it to mean someone who is maintaining the status quo, not implementing change, indeed letting it be. This could be because what you are doing or saying, or how you are being is working for you and those around you. Or, you are ignoring the negative things you are thinking, doing, or experiencing. Either way, the phrase ‘let it be so’ implies a lack of reflection and a lack of movement. It is a passive mindset.
Whether you are comfortable of uncomfortable, movement and growth is important. That no-one likes feeling uncomfortable out our life or work is a no brainer, however, if you stay long enough in your comfort zone, it may begin to feel as though you are trapped there.
Moving from a Place of Comfort
If you are in a place of comfort, it is important to regularly connect back to your purpose, to what’s important to you because if you lose sight and feeling around that, you may begin to feel stuck and loose your sense of wellbeing. To get yourself moving, celebrate the achievements that got you to this place. Now create some goals for the next stage of life, work/career, family and/or community – whatever it is that connects with your purpose. Importantly, notice when you have reached these goals, celebrate and make new ones for the next 1, 3 or 5 years. Choose whichever timeframe feels exciting but not overwhelming. Repeat.
Moving from a Negative Place
If you are experiencing negative thoughts and emotions as a result of the situation you find yourself in and have made no move to change, it is probably time to consider your mindset. Potential options are nicely summarised in this quote by Eckhart Tolle (Inc, 2016)
“Wherever you are, be there totally. If you find your here-and-now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally. If you want to take responsibility for your life, you must choose one of those three options, and you must choose now. Then accept the consequences.”
If you choose to make some changes, the same process applies as for moving from a place of comfort. It might however be more of a challenge:
Connect with your purpose or your why – what is important to you in life and work?
Think about your current reality and then imagine how you would really like it to be in the future (try 1, 3 or 5 years ahead) for you personally, in your career, at home and in the community. Imagine your perfect world. Draw it, map it, brainstorm it, create a vision board, use Pinterest, whatever works for you
Set some goals for the next 1, 3 or 5 years that match your future vision. Then ask yourself, where do I need to be in 2 months, 4 month, 6 months etc, to be on track for reaching my goal
Make an action plan. Include in this plan the resources you will need and the people you can ask for help and support
Tell people your goals – a great way to keep yourself accountable.
Begin with one small step, then the next and the next. But begin…
Acknowledge each success that brings you closer to your goal, no matter how small
If you would like some help give me a call on 0421 775 924 or email email@example.com and we can make a time for a 30 minute discovery session, no cost, no obligation, to set you on your way and to see if coaching would be helpful for you.
As we head towards international Women’s day I have been thinking about and am grateful for how much I have learned from so many women across my life both in person and through books. These quotes are by women I admire and would someday love to meet!
“Keep your eyes Open. Listen. Follow your curiosity. Ideas are constantly trying to get our attention. Let them know you are available.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic (2015)
“Motivation comes from working on things we care about. It also comes from working with people we care about.” – Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead (2013)
“Perfectionism is self destructive simply because there’s no such thing as perfect. Perfection is an unattainable goal.” – Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let go of Who You Think You Are Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are (2010)
“The knowledge you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive”. – JK Rowling’s commencement address at Harvard (2008)
“I want to be in the arena. I want to be brave with my life. And when we make the choice to dare greatly, we sign up to get our asses kicked. We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time. Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.” – Brene Browm, Rising Strong (2015)
Our Inner World and Self-Leadership
“The way you tell your story to yourself matters” – Amy Cuddy, Presence: Brining Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges (2015)
“…you simply need to learn to live with the inner voice of self doubt but not be held back by it, to hear the voice and not take direction from it.” – Tara Mohr, Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Vision and Make Things Happen (2014)
“What you intend, you create”. – Laura Berman Fortgang, Take Yourself to the Top (2005)
“What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality” – Classics Greek author Plutarch via JK Rowling at her commencement address at Harvard (2008)
“The choices you make will determine how quickly you move toward the top and how quickly you get there.”
– Laura Berman Fortgang, Take Yourself to the Top (2005)
“We cannot change what we are not aware of, and once we are aware, we cannot help but change.”– Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead (2013)
“Women who lead, read” – Laura Bates, Everyday Sexism (2014)
On Leading Others
“This is something I know for a fact: You have to work hardest for the things you love most.” – Carol Dweck, Mindset: How You Can Fulfill Your Potential (2006)
“In most cases being a good boss mans hiring talented people and then getting out of their way. “ – Tina Fey, Bossy Pants (2011)
“Treat people like family, and they will be loyal and give their all.” – Arianna Huffington, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder (2014)
“Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” – Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead (2013)
“Everyone shines, given the right lighting.” – Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (2012)
“Lift as you climb” – Margie Warrell, Fearless, Sydney, December 2016
Thank you for reading this article. If you are interested in knowing about my online courses on leadership for women or leadership coaching, please get in touch via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org