The Benefits of Self-evaluation/Self-assessment

Introduction

One of the most challenging goals for a leader is certainly to gain an accurate self-knowledge and self-awareness. The greatest obstacle is the lack of authenticity that is very widespread in human beings. However, if a leader realizes that he is himself his first and most important management tool, he will understand that he has to develop an accurate knowledge of his strengths and weaknesses. When this first step is achieved, he will be able to work properly on improving them. The assessment systems available to the leader consist in processes for collecting information in order to develop and improve individuals and ultimately to contribute to the development and improvement of the enterprise.

It is important to know how a personality is built; a personality or identity is not constituted permanently but, on the contrary, can evolve through interactions. Between attitudes, values, behaviors, perceptions, beliefs, expectations; the functioning of the personality is complex.

How can a leader manage to gain authentic self-knowledge? There are several tools for increasing self-knowledge that we outline in this paper.

Introspection and self-criticism

Introspection is a thought process about oneself that allows for the investigation of reflections, motivations, and feelings that motivate our actions. A leader should proceed with a periodic self-review; unfortunately, we have a tendency to use it only when we encounter difficulties or challenging choices.

How should one proceed with introspection? This is just a time to ask oneself questions, sincerity and humility are the key to being consistent.

The biggest difficulty comes from the subject’s position. To be at the same time the observed and the observer, an analyst with the experience; one’s own it’s hard to fight against our natural defense mechanisms. Romanowska (2014, p.25) explains that “to uncover blind spots, bring into awareness what one shields oneself from, and identify one’s avoidance and absence of actions may require a higher level of introspection that to realize the consequence of one’s manifest and directly observable harmful actions.”

Methods for self-assessment: RBS, LSA

The Reflected Best Self Exercise (RBSE) is an exercise based on the feedback developed at the University of Michigan. Roberts et al. (2005, p.713) define the RBS as “an individual’s cognitive representation of the qualities and characteristics the individual displays when at his or her best.” The concept seeks to identify and understand strengths, skills, and talents.

LSA (Leadership Steps Assessment) is a leadership self-assessment exercise that asks the subject to assess himself according to six aspects of leadership. This test has been developed by Clawson, Mc Nay, and Bevan (2001) from the University of Virginia.

Obtaining feedback

We are not always able to identify the problematic issues of our personality or our management mistakes. People around us observe us daily, witness our behaviors, and see how we react when we have to manage different situations under stress or when we have to accept our failures. Feedback is a practical way of providing individuals with “evaluative information” on their actions with the purpose of acting on these future acts, reinforcing them or correcting them. There are two types of feedback, corrective: feedback where we want the other person to improve their behavior and positive feedback: where we want the other person to continue their way of doing things.

Feedback should be regular and delivered in a short and neutral manner to be efficient and constructive. Feedback is never an attempt to change the profound nature of an individual. And feedback does not judge the person but aims at modifying his or her action.

The feedback should always be related to future behavior. It is not about the past as we cannot do anything to change the past but we want a different behavior in the future if we talk about corrective feedback and we want continuity if we speak about the positive feedback.

360-degree feedback

360-degree feedback enables one to evaluate the managerial performance of an individual when taking his work environment into account. Its particular feature is that it relies on multiple sources, while traditional performance assessment tools are based on a single source. It is an improvement tool for certain competencies that are hard to assess. It is a tool for the manager to help him set his action plans when realizing that there are gaps between what he wants to do and what his team perceives.

Toegel and Conger (2003, p.297) explain that over the last decade, “this tool became one of the most popular management development tools in use today.” Ultimately the aim of 360 feedback is the improvement of the individual being evaluated, but it can also be used to address an administrative objective (Brack et al., 2016). When an organization wants to compare and assess its employees with the aim of making organizational decisions like job or salary management we are talking about administrative implementation of the 360 feedback.

There are limits to the 360-degree model – the difficulty of obtaining maximum objectivity by each evaluator. Some people can even have problems of which they are unaware about being objective, depending on their closeness and their interaction with the evaluated individual. Results may be biased; this is the problem about choosing the participants.

Psychometric tests

Psychometric tests enable the determination of particular characteristics of an individual by referring to a norm (reference population). They assess the person’s general behavior (personality, motivations), and fundamental skills. A test is termed psychometric when it follows particular set up steps and is validated through statistical studies. Due to the Internet, there is a plethora of these tests, but the requirement of quality that contributes to the objectivity of assessment should not be forgotten.

Among all available tools some are more appropriate for a leader; for example, The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) which is more a questionnaire than a test. Pinkney (1983, p.174) summarizes that “the MBTI generates preference scores that describe a person’s interaction with the world on four dimensions…these dimensions generate 16 possible types based on the various combination of the preferred ends of the dimensions.” MBTI determines the psychological type of a subject; it is a tool for identifying the psychological trends in management/leadership fields and interpersonal relationships.

The DISC profile is a behavior questionnaire based on the theories of psychologists C. G. Jung and W. Moulton Marston. This model does not take into account education, acquired experience, values or intelligence; it measures only personal behavioral traits. It is not a test as such, and there is no judgment on the expected answers. DISC helps a leader to know himself better and use this information to improve his leadership skills. The DISC compartmental model helps, above all, to know oneself better and to appreciate and better understand the others. Its interpersonal approach aims to raise awareness of the impact of our behaviors on our relationships with others and to better identify the different communication needs. Having the keys to one’s behavior allows one, from a personal point of view, to improve one’s performance.

Emotional Intelligence

The idea linked to emotional quotient (EQ) is that the success of an individual lies in skills related to emotional intelligence, which is the ability to raise awareness of our own emotions so that we can recognize and decipher the emotions of others. And to perceive the sequence of emotion so that we can manage its energy, and even sometimes, if we have leadership, to influence the emotions of those around us and create within them predetermined emotional states.

Some researchers claim that unlike general intelligence, emotional intelligence can grow and develop as people mature and that further emotional intelligence skills can be developed through learning and training. Emmerling and Goleman (2003, p.20) state that: “without substantial effort and attention, individuals are unlikely to improve greatly a given aspect of their emotional intelligence.”

One of the first tests related to EQ is the Bar-On EQ-i, which was set up by psychologist Reuven Bar-On (2006) after the popular publication of Goleman in 1995. Bar-on’s hypothesis is that individuals endowed with higher than average emotional intelligence succeed when they have to manage constraints and environmental pressures. The main difficulties that have to be overcome for those who have to manage the environment are problem resolution, stress tolerance, and impulse control.

Conclusion

Leadership is the capacity to implement all necessary actions required to achieve one’s own goals and those of others. A leader is somebody who knows himself and is aware of his potential and his limits. Most efficient people are people who know and understand themselves and understand others. The more an individual is aware of his strength and limits, and those of others, the more he will be capable of developing strategies that will him to face the different requirements of his environment. If managerial and organizational skills occupy a prominent place, there is no doubt that self-knowledge has to be put at the forefront of the competencies that a manager has to develop.

Yves Reichenbach (December 2016)

References

Bar-On, R. (2006) “The Bar-On model of emotional-social intelligence (ESI)”, Psicothema, 18 Suppl., pp. 13-25.

Brack, D., Rose, D., Church, A. (2016) “The Evolution and Devolution of 360° Feedback”, Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology”, 9(4), pp. 761-794.

Clawson, J., Mc Nay, E., Bevan, G. (2001) “Leadership Steps Assessment (LSA)”, Charlottesville: University of Virginia.

Emmerling, R., Goleman, D. (2003) “Emotional Intelligence: Issues and Common Misunderstandings”, Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations.

Pinkney, J. (1983) “The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator as an Alternative in Career Counseling”, Personnel & Guidance Journal, 62(3), pp. 173-177.

Roberts, L., Dutton, J., Spreitzer, G., Heaphy, E., Quinn, R. (2005) “Composing the Reflecting Best Self Portrait: Building Pathways for Becoming Extraordinary in Work Organizations”, The Academy of Management Review, 30(4), pp. 712-736.

Romanowska, J. (2014) “Improving Leadership Through the power of words and music”, Stockholm: Karolinska Institutet.

Toegel, G., Conger, J. (2003) “360-Degree Assessment: Time for Reinvention”, Academy of Management Learning & Education. 2(3), pp. 297-311.

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