Effective Leadership Qualities – Measuring Yourself

Glass half full

Glass half full

There are no standardized tests to measure others’ perception of your behavior, personality and people engagement skills.  Unfortunately, it is their perception that dictates how people will engage with you.  Measuring yourself or understanding your qualities in the eyes of those around you is very complex.

If you can somehow know what people think of you, just imagine how much of an advantage that will give you!

You can get a good idea of others’ perception of you.  You can measure which qualities are stronger relative to other qualities you possess.  And we know that what can be measured can be improved!

Sometime back I conducted a survey with just one question.  I asked the respondents to identify all the skills (out of ten) that they thought I possessed.  I listed some of those which I knew I had and some which I wished I had.  For good measure, I threw in “Other – please explain”.  I used a free online tool, surveymonkey.com, nothing fancy.

In my own mind, I thought I had clarity of thought, ability to make clear decisions and could
deal with ambiguity.  I did not score well on these three parameters.  But instead, the 25 people who know me very closely and responded to the survey declared that I was very good at setting a goal, strategizing, motivating team members and even becoming a trusted advisor.The results (shown alongside) surprised me.  

That I could be so far off in my perception of myself compared to what these folks who have interacted very closely with me gave me a whole new insight into my capabilities and shortcomings.

Here are some of my learnings on how to use a survey in effectively measuring yourself.

How to run an effective survey

1.  The primary and foremost requirement is to make it anonymous.  Then, make it short and simple.  My survey just had one question in it.

2.  Be clear in what you want to get out of the survey.  I sent the same survey to another group of 25 people.  This second group was folks who dealt with me at arm’s length, i.e. not too closely.  Between the first and the second survey, I wanted to find out if folks need to interact very closely with me (i.e. on the same project, same team, same department, etc.) to know my qualities.

3.  Understand how the online survey tools work and space out your surveys.  I plan on running such surveys once every 4-5 years.

4.  Set a definite timeline.  If the respondents are close to you, then you will have a higher response rate, and can also follow up quite vigorously.  Most importantly, let them know that their responses will help you.  Friends usually like to help friends.

There are executive coaching companies that do this exact same thing and charge thousands of dollars.  They then compile the results and send it to you anonymously.  You can do this for free and get valuable feedback that can help you set personality improvement goals for yourself.

Just to give you an idea, here is my one question survey with ten options that I had used.  You can come up with your own questions.

Have you used other tools that have helped you find out others’ perception of you?  I’d love to hear about such tools and perhaps use those in future.