Leadership is a journey.  Few are gifted with the ability to be an amazing, transformational leader on their first go around.  Rather, leaders learn lesson after lesson that helps them build a consistent leadership brand and style.  Feedback is a crucial part of this journey, though oftentimes feedback is one-and-done!  A leader might get feedback on some trait, quirk, or derailer, make one small adjustment, and never hear that feedback again.  Old habits die hard, and the leader can slip back into those same behaviors.  I’ve seen it before quite a few times in 360 surveying; a leader receives feedback and makes this a “one-and-done.”  

To ensure ongoing development beyond just initial assessment, I recommend including a Pulse check. When we conduct the 4R Leader 360 surveying, we embed a Pulse survey to occur after a year.  A Pulse allows leaders to reassess in a “mini-360” on just the competencies that they have been focusing on developing.  These are sent out to the same raters (where applicable), and leaders receive feedback on each item they focus on, as well as generally items on effectiveness and effort.  Below are three reasons why Pulses are so beneficial.  

Pulse Checks Create Accountability

We are pulled in so many directions each and every day, and often self-development falls to the wayside in lieu of more urgent tasks.  In our executive assessment and coaching functions, leaders often report feeling guilty by spending time to develop themselves and, in lieu of any accountability structure, they may not do it with much intentionality.  A well-done leadership development program allows for leaders to be reassessed as a method for driving accountability.  High potential employees, especially, want to do well.  When they recognize that they will be reevaluated, oftentimes they will allocate effort more intentionally to ensure that there is evident improvement.  

Reinforce the value of leadership development

Organizational decision makers are often tasked with the challenging decision of allocating dollars to leadership development or other pressing concerns that have a more obvious return on investment.  A Pulse 360 survey provides broad data and insight toward whether efforts (and dollars spent) are resulting in a noticeable improvement in leadership effectiveness and, typically, in employee engagement and culture.  

Celebrate and recognize success

Visualizing the benefits of personal development can be challenging, as much of this work happens behind the scenes.  At the same time, well-done personal development can contribute outwardly visible changes in behavior.  One of the reasons why a pulse check and reassessment is so critical is that it allows leaders to see that their improvement is noticed.  Our data tells us that, when leaders put in the effort, they are typically perceived as having improved.  That extra level of validation improves leaders’ engagement and energy toward future efforts, further building bench strength for the organization. 

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