Strengths and Weaknesses: Most Common Trends in Startup Executives & Leaders
We analyzed all of the 360 Degree Reviews we conducted between 2018 and 2020 with the goal of discovering insights into the strengths and weaknesses of startup executives. These three white papers detail our findings across roles, company size, and in leadership generally. These insights are indispensable for any current or aspiring startup executive seeking to learn from others’ experiences and realize their potential as a leader.
Intensive Interviews vs. Questionnaires
One reason companies use a questionnaire/quantitative system for feedback collection is that they scale much more affordably and efficiently across large worker populations. Multiple choice questionnaires are easy to score and if properly created can be reliable tools. And yes, there are some good ones out there.
However, to be effective, the chosen instrument must align with a clearly defined leadership model with competencies mapped to specific on-the-job behaviors. The tool and the model must support the context of your company. That includes values, vision, and culture etc. Additionally, quantitative assessments need to be tested for things like test-retest consistency, internal consistency, and inter-rater agreement.
Interview-based 360s are obviously more labor-intensive than quantitative questionnaires, but they have some great advantages for our client base which is typically made up of founders of high-growth, rapidly-changing startups. Interviews can yield more nuanced information about a leader’s impact within an organization. We can ask follow-up questions and draw out specific examples. We can clarify statements to get to more helpful levels of specificity. As we establish rapport during the interview process, reviewers will share things they might not reveal in an online questionnaire. Our method supports the depth and highly personal nature of our client relationships.
360s Performed by a Trained Coach
We only perform 360 reviews as part of an ongoing coaching relationship. Here’s why:
- Landmark studies on coaching buttress the importance of supportive follow-up after feedback is received. It facilitates developmental action planning and the practice of targeted behaviors.
- In one of the few prospective empirical studies conducted on the impact of executive coaching, researchers reported that after receiving 360-degree feedback, managers who worked with a coach were significantly more likely to set measurable and specific goals and solicit ideas for improvement. They subsequently received significantly improved performance ratings (Smither et al., 2003).
- Other research found that in six weeks of executive coaching after 360-degree feedback, performance increased by 60 percent (Thach, 2002).
- In a much-cited study in the public sector, another team of researchers found that employee feedback and coaching for two months increased productivity above the effects of a managerial training program for 31 clients (Olivero et al., 1997).