09 Jan, 2017

Revealing the Emperor’s New Clothes; 360° feedback and tipping points for change

Revealing the Emperor’s New Clothes; 360° feedback and tipping points for change

The best leaders avoid this “Emperor’s New Clothes” trap by creating well-balanced top executive teams, each with skills and strengths in specific areas. They also create an organisational culture where executives have a healthy disrespect for their boss, where people feel safe to speak their mind. Unfortunately, however, few leaders – too few, in our experience – proactively seek honest feedback from the people they work with. The result is a serious gap between what many leaders say they do, and what they really do—between their self-perception and the perception others have of them.

Some executives, perhaps more courageous and curious than most, decide to work with a leadership coach, or participate in an executive seminar, in order to receive unbiased advice on their blind spots. The person may know where they want to go – what their personal goals are – but not how to get there. Like any journey, professional or personal, the process of development and change can be facilitated by the use of robust feedback and reflection that can guide them from where they are to where they want to be.

We have found that properly designed 360° feedback questionnaires can be very useful to instigate courageous and meaningful conversations and create tipping points for change. They can be the beginning of an introspective journey, and set into motion much desired or much needed changes in behaviour. Research also clearly indicates that 360° feedback give a much more accurate picture than self-assessment of what executives really do.

KDVI has a family of 360° feedback instruments to provide not only insights about leaders’ manifest behavior but also a more complete analysis of their driving forces. This approach includes specially designed 360° survey instruments, face-to-face presentation and discussion of results, and resolution through the development and follow up of action plans, can have a significant behavioural impact and action implications. The process is rather like peeling an onion: as the outer, superficial layers come away, our core life experiences are steadily revealed. With this new insight, we can design action plans for development, and ask our family, friends and colleagues for support as we implement these changes.

In sum, our development instruments help people:

  • Deal with the “shadow side” of their personality 

  • Gain insight into their strengths and weaknesses 

  • Expand their behavioral repertoire and discover more creative ways of solving difficult interpersonal problems 

  • Become more effective at career management and professional advancement 

  • Redefine superior-subordinate relationships to create a more open feedback setting the stage for a more open, network oriented organisational culture.
  • Create alignment within executive teams for greater effectiveness
  • Acquire a greater capacity to cope with stress 

  • Better manage the tensions between their professional and private lives 

  • Create a concrete and achievable developmental agenda and program for change 

Interested in learning more about our instruments and how to use them effectively in a coaching context? Join our upcoming Diagnosing and Initiating Change Workshop, bringing together coaches, business consultants and HR and L&D professionals to explore different tools that can be used to better understand a leader’s effectiveness.

For those who are already familiar with our instruments, we are also offering Peer Coaching Supervision, to provide coaches the opportunity to exchange client cases and personal insights to deepen their coaching practice.

Additional reading:

Coutu, D. (2004). Putting Leaders on the Couch (2004). Harvard Business Review,

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