The ‘Selfie-360’ – Unleashing the Power of Feedback

keep-calm-power-of-feedbackOver the past several months, I have helped many corporate leaders to make meaningful and positive changes, based on candid feedback from others. The most effective leaders today possess a strong combination of good self-awareness and good self-management. Honest feedback is a cornerstone for building these capacities. Why? Because we humans are notoriously poor at really knowing how others see us. Sure, we all believe we know the impact we make, but how really accurate are these unquestioned assumptions? (Alas, “not-very,” according to research.)

A common workplace feedback tool for leaders is the “multi-rater” assessment, or the so-called “360” because they solicit mostly anonymous feedback from all around an individual (i.e. 360-degrees) – bosses, peers, direct reports, customers, and others around an individual’s circle of influence. How the 360 feedback is received can be a mix of reactions – affirming, confirming, surprising, or even a sobering “wake-up call” for the most extreme perception gaps between self and others.

‘Selfie 360’


Through Kincaid Associates Coaching & Consulting, we can provide clients with a range of sophisticated, well-tested 360 assessments. Each has its unique strengths and focus. The cost to administer and debrief a 360 varies by the instrument (please contact me if you want to learn more). But did you know that you can gather very useful feedback for yourself by creating your own multi-rater assessment? I call it the Selfie 360, and it can provide very useful insights into how people around your circle of influence actually experience you, and at little or no cost.

There are different approaches to conducting your own multi-rater. For example, you can create your own online survey (check out, and then invite others from various contexts to provide specific feedback, anonymously or not. Another approach is to go directly to key individuals in your circle, and ask for specific feedback. (Note the emphasis on being specific about your feedback request. “How am I doing?” will render much less useful data than “How am I doing regarding ____.”)

Ask 3 Powerful Questions

To help give your Selfie 360 helpful structure and focus to solicit specific honest feedback, I suggest framing your request with three powerful questions, framed around a classic change management process technique, called Stop-Start-Continue.

Let’s look at an example of how this might work. Let’s say that you want to improve your “leadership effectiveness.” First, identify key individuals from various contexts, to get multiple perspectives on your effectiveness as a leader, and then solicit their honest feedback. Once they’ve agreed, meet with each person to get their opinion. (F2F or video is recommended, although phone or email can be very insightful, too.)

Let them know you want to improve your leadership effectiveness, and have three questions for them. . .

Q1: To improve my leadership effectiveness, what is something you think I should stop doing?
(Now pause. Just listen! Let them think and respond. Don’t defend or try to explain yourself. Ask only clarifying questions. Make note of their response. Acknowledge you heard them, and now tee-up your second question.)

Q2: To improve my leadership effectiveness, what is something you think I should start doing?
(Similar to before, pause and let them respond. Just let their words in. No rebuttals! Only ask clarifying questions. There is nothing you must say or do with this feedback yet. Make note of their responses, and move to the third question.)

Q3: To improve my leadership effectiveness, what is something you think I should continue doing?
(Just as before, just listen, ask only clarifying questions, offer no rebuttals, and take notes.)

I’ve found limiting to one topic at a time yields the best, least-ambiguous results versus to an overly broad approach. If time and interest permit, you can do more than one round of Stop-Start-Continue, each with a different topic (e.g. listening skills, presentation skills, public speaking technique, approachability, listening skills, empathy, etc). Think about an area you want to improve, and ask three powerful questions!

At the end of each feedback engagement, thank them for their honest feedback which gives you some good data to consider. Once you’ve interviewed all from whom you want feedback this round, you are ready to shift modes, from data collection to data analysis. Now, sift through what you’ve heard from around your circle of influence. What similarities or differences do you notice? What is it you’re hearing over and over? What didn’t you hear that you expected to hear? What surprised you most? What are you better at than you thought? Or what did you hear from raters in one context (e.g. peers) that you notice comparisons or contrasts with others (e.g. direct reports)?

After data analysis, time to shift modes again, to the action planning and implementation phases. Based on feedback received, what changes do you want to make? (Use the 5 Helpful Questions in the previous section above.)

Tips for Best Results:

  • Do NOT attempt if you are NOT willing to hear feedback! Asking for feedback, then reacting with anger, denial, or defensiveness, or ignoring it completely will undermine trust and damage a relationship.
  • Detach. Get curious and stay curious. Keep in mind that opinions are data; it is up to you to turn data into it into useful, actionable information, through reflection and discernment. (Is what they say accurate, or is their feedback “more about them” than about you? Again, you get to decide!)
  • Express gratitude! Acknowledge their generosity (even if it stings at first), and also the courage involved. It is a courageous act for you to ask for honest feedback, and likewise it is courageous for them to provide feedback. To make this work, you and your feedback-providers must both make yourself vulnerable – you to solicit and receive feedback, and they to provide it.
  • Remember that there is nothing you must do during feedback except listen! You don’t have to make any changes, or make any commitment to act or change right now. You are just gathering data from a variety of sources. You can decide later about any changes in behavior and approach.
  • If you do decide to make changes, consider asking for help from your feedback-providers. Let them know you’ve taken feedback to heart, incorporating it for your improvement. If you think their help and support would be useful as you incorporate changes in your approach or behavior, ask!
  • Variation – take it online. Stop-Start-Continue can also be done with online or printed survey, and thus more anonymously than F2F.

Like many other self-management tools, feedback can help you become an effective leader. The place to begin is where you are. The time to start is now.

Mid-Life Reinvention: You 2.0

Jason is a 40-year old quality improvement manager at a huge conglomerate where he’s spent his entire career. He is successful, earns good money, and has a really nice life going. But there’s a gnawing feeling that there is something more life.

Joyce, 52, felt stuck in her upper-middle management communications role at a major corporation. With her two great kids in college, a burgeoning healthy relationship with her fiancé, and a wide circle of friends, she too felt uneasy about her professional life.

By most measures, both Jason and Joyce are successful in their lives and careers, enjoy good health, relative comfort financially, and express general gratitude for what they have accomplished and acquired. And yet, they are experiencing discontent, a stirring that what they’ve worked toward so far in life isn’t satisfying.

Joyce and Jason, composites of many of my coaching clients, are experiencing what Dr. Wayne Dyer describes in his excellent book The Shift: Taking Your Life from Ambition to Meaning. There are many life-stages theories, explaining various phases of our lives; I really resonate with Wayne’s “shift from ambition to meaning” model. From childhood to between 40-50 years of age, most all of us notice that there are more years in the “year-view” mirror than ahead in the windshield.

We’ve worked ambitiously to achieve many goals we set forth in careers, in building families and lives, and acquiring a lot of the “stuff” that are trappings of success in our culture. What’s more, we are living longer than any other time in human history, and yet all those extra years need not be simply extension of misery and decline at life’s end.

[tr-shareit media=”” text=”The youngest Baby Boomers turn 50 in 2014, so there is growing interest to increase meaning, contentment, and satisfaction.” sites=”twitter,facebook,pinterest,google,tumblr,linkedin” url=”” align=”center”]The youngest Baby Boomers turn 50 in 2014, so there is growing interest to increase meaning, contentment, and satisfaction.[/tr-shareit]

Instead of focusing on acquiring more stuff, the relentless climbing of the corporate ladder, or competing to get ahead, the shift is one that moves our attention toward looking ahead and giving back, being of service, building a legacy.

Viewing this mid-life metamorphosis as a natural, beautiful, and yes, even thrilling, “shift” is more satisfying and pleasurable than viewing it as a “mid-life crisis” that it has been characterized in media for decades.

It’s your choice how to view this shift (change is inevitable, drama is optional!) Many have found that buying a red Corvette or finding a new trophy spouse aren’t very satisfying responses to the stirrings of mid-life.

So what alternatives are there?

What will you do with the awesome gift of extra years of good health, productivity, and wisdom of a lifetime of success in being ambitious?

I love helping mid-career, mid-life professionals to reinvent themselves, creating a plan to make a graceful and mindful transition from ambition to meaning. Here are some suggestions, based on coaching many clients who are doing a “mid-life makeover, from the inside out”:

Read – there are excellent books available on mid-life and beyond. Just a few are Dr. Dyer’s The Shift: Taking Your Life from Ambition to Meaning; Marianne Williamson’s The Age of Miracles: Embracing the New Mid-Life; and, The Third Chapter; Passion, Risk and Adventure in the 25 years after 50 by Sara Lawrence- Lightfoot. There are LOTS more that focus on career, family, service, entrepreneurship, health, and community. Check out what’s there, and what you are attracted to most, and then read!

Online Community – PBS recently launched “Next Avenue” website and blog, connecting those of us 50+ with resources, ideas, inspiration and connection . AARP offers “Life Reimagined

Give Back – Many mid-lifers remain in their careers, and also volunteer their time to causes that move them, e.g. English as a Second Language, animal rescue, mentoring.

Encore Career – Many are changing the direction and structure of their work lives, many of us going back to school, or starting our own businesses, doing things that make their hearts sing. This is not for everyone, but it’s not as scary (I call it “thrilling”!) as you imagine, and there is lots of support available. Going solo doesn’t mean going it alone!

Coach – Coaching is an awesome power for transformation. Working with a professional coach gives you a thinking-partner to explore what you want, what’s in the way, what help you need, and come up with a plan of action, then hold you accountable.

My colleague Jude Olsen, PhD, and I are hosting Refocus. Reinvent. Rebuild. A seminar for the next chapter of your life on April 26, in Dallas/Fort Worth. The one-day workshop is designed to help individuals and couples over 40 to:

  • Develop a clarified vision of what you want your life to look like as you move forward
  • Create a plan for making your vision a reality
  • Learn how to integrate self-renewal/self-nurturing practices into your daily life
  • Experience meaningful connection and sharing with like-minded people at your life stage
  • Enjoy creative expression and quiet reflection to get in touch with your physical/emotional needs
  • Stay on track with your goals with an introductory call with a professional coach, plus a group follow-up conference call after the session

For more information, or to enroll, visit

What’s Your Money Story?

Money is a powerful concept. Just think of all the ways in which most of us give our attention to money – how we earn it, manage it, account for it, save it, spend it, worry about it, and even give it away. Not surprisingly, many of us have unquestioned limiting beliefs about money. We may even hold judgments about the relationships others have with their money – rich or poor, lavish spenders, or overly frugal.

In The Energy of Money, author Dr. Maria Nemeth challenges readers to create a personal “money autobiography” by writing a description of our lifelong experience of money, from earliest memories to now. She suggests that what we observed and learned about money from our earliest memories informs our money beliefs as adults. What a sobering exercise! My money autobiography showed me how my own Money Story – my current beliefs about money – was very much shaped by my parents’ beliefs about money.

My folks were members of “The Greatest Generation.” They were kids during the depths of the Great Depression and were young adults during WWII. (Keywords: Lack, Scarcity, Limitation, Rationing, Distrust, Secrecy, Hardship, Doing-without.) Understandably, they saw the world as generally an unfriendly place; money was hard to come by and to be protected at all costs. For them, the glass often looked half full. I acknowledge that I didn’t experience the hugely challenging times they endured growing up. Different life experience means different worldview, so I see and experience the world differently – as a generally friendly place of abundance that is full of choices and opportunities. For me, the glass is more than half full. (Keywords: Abundance, Generous Universe, Win-Win, Flow, Creativity, Generative)

I felt uncomfortable, even a little disloyal, in questioning differences in our belief systems. Working with my own Coach, I concluded that embracing my own true personal beliefs is not disrespectful of elders nor does it invalidate their experiences. Rather, this simply means making a personal choice to mindfully notice the beliefs I hold, discern if they are true for me now, and then change them by creating a more personally authentic Money Story of my own. Nobody gets to be wrong!

Coaching is a great way to explore unquestioned limiting beliefs. Not surprisingly, money is a common focus of calls with my coaching clients. I invite them to examine their own Money Story – its origins, benefits and limitations. Often they decide a substantial re-write of their own Money Story is in order to craft a more modern, accurate and congruent set of personal beliefs around money.

It’s not easy to uproot lifelong beliefs. Friends and family members may not feel comfortable or supportive of such changes at first, or ever. But I suggest that there are few things that are more satisfying than feeling more authentic, aware, and aligned with one’s own values and beliefs. So, what’s your Money Story?

[box] 10 questions to help create YOUR new Money Story:

  1. What was the financial circumstance of your childhood?
  2. What messages about money can you recall when you were young?
  3. In what ways do you think your current financial situation relates to that of your family of  origin?
  4. What is one assumption or belief about money that no longer serves you well?
  5. What might be a desired outcome of embracing a new personal Money Story?
  6. By changing your Money Story, what are you saying “yes” to?
  7. By changing your Money Story, what are you saying “no” to?
  8. If you want to ask for some help with this, who would be supportive and non-judgmental of you as you explore?
  9. When will you begin?
  10. How will you know your new money story is accurate and truly your own?



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Be Bad!

“Be Bad!”

That’s what comedian Kate Clinton wrote when she autographed a photo for me a few years ago.

Be Bad really landed for me, as a good departure point – not from being “good” or “kind.” No, the departure point was from being “nice.” I spent way too many years living in ways that catered to others comfort and wishes at the expense of my own wants and needs. Maybe you can relate?

With the help of my coach, I learned that I often saw rules where there weren’t any. I unconsciously opted out of many things in life based on unquestioned assumptions I made, informed by rules that I made up or that others imposed that were unacceptable. Moments of clarity like that are powerful outcomes from working with a coach.

So, I took Kate’s admonition to heart. I made a commitment! If living life with dignity, integrity, personal power, speaking up, playing bigger, with joy and kindness is somehow bad, then okay – I choose to Be Bad.

If this resonates, I invite you to consider some coach-like questions for yourself:[box]

  • Where do you see rules that aren’t there?
  • What would it feel like to come out of the “nice” closet and Be Bad?
  • What might happen if you said “no” to one unreasonable request today?
  • How will you know when you will be ready to make a change and Be Bad? [/box]

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Perhaps we can explore coaching together? (Go on, Be Bad!)

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