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An Overview of the Leadership Circle Profile™ Tool

Gusto Editors  
Team of colleagues reviewing leadership profiles

How do you measure the effectiveness of your leadership? 

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Everyone in a leadership position wants to be effective at their firm, and everyone has their unique way of leading. Some leaders take a more hands-on approach, while others allow their team to run itself and only offer necessary advice. Despite the variance in style, every leader holds the ability to implement beneficial techniques that optimize their firm’s performance. The individual nature behind management strategy leads to this mystery—how do you measure leadership? 

We at Gusto have partnered with our friends at CPA Academy to bring you an informative article series surrounding leadership evaluation. The webinar, “Is Your Leadership an Asset or a Liability?” presenter Amber Setter shares an in-depth analysis of how to quantify and assess the effectiveness of your leadership under the guidance.

Amber Setter is an accountant-turned-professional-coach who utilizes her passion for inspiring leaders to help them become the best possible versions of themselves. Her implementation of the Leadership Circle Profile offers insights into her clients’ values and how to implement them effectively.

This article will analyze the Leadership Circle Profile 360-Degree Survey and its assessment of effective leadership, leadership competencies, and how to improve your job performance. 

Effective leadership lies within

To understand the strategies of the Leadership Circle Profile, you first need to understand the difference between a leader’s outer world and inner world. The outer world consists of the aspects of a person they can display to others such as knowledge, skills, and expertise. Conversely, the inner world comprises everything humans internalize: fears, feelings, hopes, and expectations. One way to picture the size of a person’s inner and outer worlds would be to examine an iceberg: 

There are things we can see in the outer world, that’s 10% of an iceberg that’s visible, but below the surface, there’s 90% we can’t see. … To set the stage for the Leadership Circle Profile, we need to understand more about the distinction between a leader’s outer world [the ten percent] and a leader’s inner world [the ninety percent].

– Amber Setter
Female taking notes based on her leadership profile

Often, performance management programs focus on the outer worlds of leaders. Quantitative metrics like billable hours or the ability to meet the deadlines of a project become the focus of improvement. Narrowing the area of refinement to the outer world of a leader may start to improve the numbers in those areas but has the potential to leave the leader burnt out and empty: 

As a coach, I always work with clients to establish some outer goal such as a promotion or to find a new job, but those external achievements are the least valuable part of the experience. The real value comes from the exploration of the inner world of a leader. Anyone whose calendar and bank account are full but their soul is empty knows money or achievement aren’t going to buy you happiness.

– Amber Setter

Instead of focusing on external achievement, true success comes from analyzing the inner world. Finding deficient areas within themselves enables a leader to understand the reason behind ineffective leadership behaviors. The resulting knowledge provides the insight managers need to take a step back and transform into who they want to be: 

The real value of coaching and leadership development is a focus on the inner development of the whole person by exploring the depths of what others can’t see. This [information] will help a leader distinguish why they are or are not taking action. Your actions are deeply influenced by what you hold in your inner world: your beliefs, your fears, your feelings … all the stuff that only you are the expert on.

– Amber Setter

By stepping away from the typical quantifiable metrics of sales and production and moving toward analyzing one’s inner-self, you gain the ability to adjust your motivation behind your actions internally. The Leadership Circle Profile provides data to discern what drives your behavior and sets the stage for transformation. A proven system to implement, The Leadership Circle Profile tool is a 360 assessment.

What is a 360 leadership assessment?

A 360 assessment occurs when the evaluators are composed of people in the organization. First, the organization is divided into two categories. In one category, there are leaders within the firm used as the subject of the survey. In the other category, there are people who take the survey:

In this particular model, you have a boss’s boss, perhaps a managing partner or CEO, then the boss, then a department head [in one bucket]. Then there’s another bucket. The other bucket can be used very creatively. [For example], if someone’s in public accounting, they can use the other bucket to ask their clients.

– Amber Setter

The subject must perform the survey about themselves as well as distributing the assessment to others. This form of self-evaluation gives leaders insight into how they view their leadership competencies versus the way others view them:

In addition, you complete this [survey as well]. You get to say, ‘This is where I think I’m effective or ineffective,’ and rate yourself. This [strategy] is great because it reveals how other people see you in an aggregate and how you see yourself. You get to see the gap in [opinion], which can be quite revealing for someone.

– Amber Setter

The most effective way to administer the assessment is electronically. An electronic evaluation gives anonymity to the individuals performing the survey and works to cut down bias within the survey:

Female leader showing an example leadership profile

Some coaches will do a 360 process where they go out and interview. They talk to all the stakeholders in your organization through a phone call or Zoom meeting. Personally, that’s not my preference. … I know I have a filter, and I know I have bias. So I like to use an electronic survey to eliminate or reduce any biases that might come up in the survey.

– Amber Setter

Electronically administering the survey to those who interact with them daily allows leaders to understand how people view them honestly. Additionally, the variety of information gathered through the survey allows the profile tool to analyze the data and compile that data to analyze an individual’s leadership effectiveness accurately.

Benefits of the Leadership Circle Profile tool

The main benefit of this tool is the ability to gather more than one type of data. By going beyond the numbers and asking questions about a leader’s personality, the profile provides a deeper assessment of the individual:

The assessment captures both qualitative and quantitative data. Many numbers come into it, but there are also free-form questions that you can ask. You can even customize [the survey] so people can write-in and share more about their experience of working with you as a leader.

– Amber Setter

This qualitative data gathered from the assessment gives insight into the subject’s whole because it allows people to share their experiences honestly. Subsequently, the model becomes effective in evaluating someone’s underlying mindset and overall efficacy as a leader. The resulting data provides valuable information in two ways:

If I am administering [the assessment], the real value comes from two places. One is it’s focused feedback. The results come in [a graph] that looks like a pie, and you can choose one slice, one area of focus to work on and accelerate your effectiveness as a leader. … Also, in using this model, really unconscious stuff, the things that are our blind spots that we could not see previously, become conscious.

– Amber Setter

By taking the data gathered from the assessment, subjects not only see areas to increase usefulness but also reveal underlying internal issues of which they were previously unaware. This increased awareness gives leaders the ability to move from reaction to a place of transformation.

Learn more about the Leadership Circle Profile and 360 leadership assessment

Assessment is vital to create the best version of oneself. The data gained from performing leadership assessments allow you to analyze your leadership competencies and determine the way you lead your firm. One easy way to evaluate your leadership skills is the Leadership Circle Profile Self-Assessment. The Leadership Circle Profile provides you with a way to reveal blind spots and equip you with the tools you need to access your creative mind:

When this awareness is established, leadership development can proceed. Without it, transformative and lasting change is less likely to happen. When I talk to a prospect, I tell them, ‘The least valuable thing you’re going to get is the simple attainment of goals. I’m in this work for transforming somebody’s mindset and growing them, so they have effective and lasting change.’

– Amber Setter

If you would like to learn more about the Leadership Circle Profile and 360 leadership assessment, check out the entire webinar here. We also offer another article that takes a look at other aspects of adult development and self-awareness. Also, be sure to check out Part Two of this transformative article series.

Our mission at Gusto is to partner with firms to create peace of mind that empowers a better life. We currently partner with over 4,500 firms nationwide to cultivate personal prosperity. Be sure to look into our People Advisory Program to learn how to effectively connect with your clients beyond their finances. We also provide a partner blog full of resources for all your advising needs. Visit our Gusto for Accountants page for more information on utilizing people-based accounting within your firm.

Updated: December 25, 2021

Gusto Editors
Gusto Editors

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