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The benefits of baring it all in a 360

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

Like most of us, Sanjeev Nikore, a senior corporate vice president at HCL Technologies Ltd., had a weakness.

“I wasn’t too good at delegating, because I thought I knew the answers,” he recalls.

After a “360-degree feedback” evaluation from his superiors, peers and subordinates, Nikore saw and heard what others had to say about his lack of delegating. And so did everyone else; Nikore’s evaluation was posted on an internal website for all to see.

Soon after exposing his faults and strengths, he was promoted, in large part because of the way he handled the feed­­back and adapted his leadership style.

His isn’t the only firm taking transparency to new heights. A growing number of U.S. executives voluntarily share their 360-degree reviews with direct reports, including Dell Inc. CEO Michael Dell.

In considering whether transparency is worth trying, at least two pros jump out:

1.  The practice can foster teamwork. Direct reports often make the extra effort to help a collaborative leader perform better, knowing what’s needed.

Example: When Denise Manning of G&B Solu­­tions, admitted a failing to her team, “My team made it a priority to ... make sure I made the goal” the following year, she says.

2.  It allows for delineation of roles.

Example: When Reginald Bull arrived at LG Electronics, after leaving Uni­­lever PLC, he shared his most recent 360-degree evaluation. It ranked him as “average” for the operational phase of projects.

Because his associates now knew his weakness, he says, and because they ex­­celled at running things, it allowed them to divide the work more effectively.

Word of caution: Exposing weaknesses can lead to competitive maneuvering. For example, one executive was criticized for leading meetings that dragged on forever. His colleagues made a point of running tight meetings and won the promotions.

— Adapted from “Transparency Pays Off In 360-Degree Reviews,” The Wall Street Journal.

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