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Self-Assessment Versus Others’ Assessment

Multi-rater assessments involve many levels of evaluation to give the leader a 360-degree picture of themselves as a performer. Such assessments include the opinions of direct reports, supervisors, colleagues, customers, and partners. The leader being assessed can also be included when they are allowed to provide a self-evaluation. Ideally, everyone should say just about the same thing if they’re all honest. They will have different perspectives, but their observations about the leader being assessed should tell the same story.

For the leader who is being assessed, this type of feedback gives them a fuller view of their performance. This diverse field of perspectives provides the leader with more pictures to compare their self-evaluation against. What is vital for the leader to get the most out of this evaluation system is that they accurately assess themselves and compare that to what everyone else says. Truthful self-perception is essential for effective leadership.[1] A full, honest assessment from all parties will complete the circle of information available to help the leader achieve greatness.

Developing an Understanding of One’s Self

An essential component in the 360-degree evaluation is the leader’s self-evaluation. An accurate assessment will help the leader identify their strengths and weaknesses. An inaccurate one will confuse the leader as to the other contributions to the evaluation. To effectively modify behavior, leaders need valid and accurate feedback on their performance with which to build on. Subordinates and superiors expect certain behavior from their leaders and managers. A leader’s development is dependent on discovering the discrepancies between what they think and what others see.[2]

Improving as a leader includes establishing and nurturing effective and productive relationships with everyone involved in their business. These relationships will benefit when the leader has a clearer understanding of themselves. When a leader gains pure insight into their personality and work style, and couples this with an accurate account of how others see them, they will be better at managing the social contracts necessary to get the job done.[3]

Self-Rating and Other-Rating Agreement

As stated, all raters, including the one being rated, would ideally see things the same. A self-aware leader would correctly weigh their contributions to the team. Such accuracy is descriptive of the agreement between the leader’s self-assessment and the assessment of other raters.[4] If asymmetries between assessment perspectives are pronounced, then the attribution of blame or credit for activities could lead to conflict and misunderstanding. One may believe that they are objective about their performance, but if they see things one way and other raters see things differently, this illusion could lead to questions of integrity.[5]

Francis Yammarino researches superior-subordinate relationships and how leader-member relationships affect employee outcomes and has published books and leadership articles. He has also served as an editor for a leadership journal. Leanne Atwater researches similar topics and has served as principal investigator for a longitudinal study of leadership funded by the US Army Research Institute. They both have consulted for various US government and military organizations.[6] Yammarino and Atwater compiled a list of elements that convey the critical components of a 360-degree feedback program. They discussed the level of agreement and consensus between the assessors and the one being assessed. Leaders who view themselves as good leaders and find that their assessment matches that of others involved in a 360-degree assessment tend to:

· be successful and the best performers

· make effective job-relevant decisions

· develop favorable efficacy expectations and commensurate achievement

· have the most promotability

· have very positive job attitudes

· be more successful and effective leaders

· have low absenteeism, high commitment, low turnover, and few conflicts with others

· use feedback from others constructively to alter their behavior as needed[7]

Leader’s Actions Congruent with Follower Perceptions

What leaders say and what they do should be congruent. This consistency would go a long way in winning the support of followers.[8] The way leaders respond to feedback and how they handle discrepancies in opinions about their performance can influence followers’ views about them as leaders.[9] A self-aware leader who exhibits agreement between how they rate themselves and how others rate them can better influence work attitudes. They can use their self-awareness to help build positive relationships with followers built on trust. Charismatic leaders recognize follower needs, values, and perspectives, and see themselves as others do. Even leaders are not very good at accurately evaluating themselves and seeing how others see them. [10] When they can, though, they are then better equipped to adjust their behavior to improve shortcomings for the good of the organization.[11]

Increased Leader Effectiveness

Scholars advocate for the multi-rater, 360-degree feedback option. Multi-rater feedback can help a leader increase their knowledge of themselves, leading to improved behavior and better person-environment fit.[12] When organizations rely on information from partner organizations, reports from subordinates, from superiors, and self-ratings to give them an objective view of their leaders, they can equip their leaders to improve their effectiveness. But even if all of this support is in place to help the leader see their behaviors objectively, the leader must contribute with an accurate self-assessment, or the improvements won’t come. A leader who overrates themselves and sees their actions as more than what they are inflates their self-esteem. To protect their ego, such leaders avoid negative feedback as it may challenge their opinion of themselves.[13]

Everyone, including the person under evaluation, should see the same things and tell the same story. This is not as common as one would think. Leaders sometimes don’t view their performance the same as others do. When they do, however, the benefits to the organization and to themselves as leaders is great.


  • an accurate self-assessment by the leader is critical to the veracity of 360-degree multi-rater feedback

  • a leader’s development is dependent on discovering and acknowledging the discrepancies between their assessment of themselves and others’ assessments of them as a leader

  • self-awareness helps leaders build positive relationships with followers

[1] Conger & Toegel (2002) [2] Conger & Toegel (2002) [3] Caldwell (2009) [4] Dierdorff et al. (2019) [5] Pronin et al. (2004) [6] Yammarino & Atwater (1997) [7] Yammarino & Atwater (1997) [8] Gray & Densten (2007) [9] Conger & Toegel (2002) [10] Yammarino & Atwater (1997) [11] Sosik (2001) [12] Conger & Toegel (2002) [13] Pienaar & Nel (2017)

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