The “Living 360” – bring biblical community to leadership evaluation and growth

Pastor Robert’s interactions with others felt highly rational and even cold, and people never knew whether he was listening to them due to his lack of responsiveness. After participating in a “living 360” process, he not only understood but he fully appreciated the impact of these two factors on co-workers and church members and therefore on his leadership effectiveness. Today, with coaching assistance, Robert is making great strides to create new habits of more positive and helpful relationship and leadership interactions.

The Church is where leaders should be the best models of telling each other the hard truth in love. Proverbs 27:6 — Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. Then why is it that the church is often the last place we actually find this? Traditional feedback approaches in the church include saying nothing, talking behind backs (passive-aggressive), hinting at the issues, and giving top-down evaluations that do more harm than good.

I’m often asked to coach a Sr. Pastor or other senior leader to help him grow in his leadership. There are 4 challenges in this process: discovering the leader’s strengths and struggles; understanding where he needs to be to become an excellent performer; helping him see these and to fully understand the “gap” between where he is and where he needs to go; and determining whether he is coachable enough to do the hard work of growth that will get him there.

An anonymous, on-line 360 degree evaluation can be a great tool to aid in all 4 of these challenges, especially when coupled with a good behavioral profile that brings out natural strengths and struggles.

However, over the past couple of years I have discovered a “Living 360” approach that can, as the name implies, really supplement the anonymous 360 to bring the feedback to life. The leader and I identify 4 or 5 people to sit face-to-face with him as I facilitate a lovingly honest discussion about what it’s like to be in personal and organizational relationship with him.

Pastor Robert was able to hear specific examples of how his inactive listening was harming his leadership effectiveness.Pastor Phillip was able to see how his drive for results was squelching relationships and therefore had become a huge barrier to getting the very results he sought. And we were able to ask questions to get to the bottom of some of the issues that were beneath the issues.

Right now you may be feeling like most participants, who enter this exercise with moderate to deep misgivings about how well this will turn out. However, by setting this up correctly, covering it in prayer, and ensuring good will by all participants, it turns out to be one of the greatest blessings and relationship building events that any of them have ever experienced.

The leader has every opportunity to FULLY understand the positive and negative impact of his leadership on others around him and to appreciate the potential benefits of his own growth in very specific ways. He can ask questions to gain complete clarity about the gap between where he is and where he needs to be. And he will gain respect from the participants as they experience his humility and openness in this process.

Finally, I truly believe that this is modeling the kind of vulnerable relationships that should permeate the church leadership culture and, in fact, the culture of any organization that is led by a Christian.

You may not want to try this alone, however, at least the first time. If so, I would be glad to facilitate this process for you.

© 2014 Transform, LLC and John Purcell

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