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Discovering the Leader Within: The Leadership Circle Profile™ Tool

Gusto Editors  
Female leader helping employees discover their leadership profiles

Do you know how to measure leadership effectiveness? 

Leadership looks differently depending on who you are. Some leaders like to take a hands-on approach when working with their team, while others like to step back and let their business run itself. The difference in approach to leadership does not make one style better than the other as long as the leader is effective. Because there is so much variety between leadership styles, the question many people ask is, “How do you measure the effectiveness of leadership?

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

Our host was Amber Setter,  an accountant turned professional coach who utilizes her passion for inspiring leaders to help them become the best possible versions of themselves, inside and out. 

This article will analyze the Leadership Circle Profile 360-Degree Survey and its assessment of effective leadership, creative competency, and how to overcome the reactive mind. 

How does the Leadership Circle Profile measure effective leadership?

After conducting a 360 assessment, the survey displays results within a graph of the universal model leadership. The circular graph is divided into pieces displaying different leadership behaviors. The results of the subject’s leadership style are applied to individual sections of the graph to inform the leader on how the survey group perceives them.

Each piece of the graph represents a different leadership behavior, and the model has two domains a person can come from when taking action. One area is called creative competencies, and the other is called reactive tendencies.

– Amber Setter

The two domains of the graph show the leader the effectiveness of their leadership strategies and whether those strategies are an asset or a liability to their firm. The assets—creative competencies—display the strengths a leader exhibits through their leadership style. These competencies manifest themselves in the way a leader achieves results and bring out the best in others: 

Creative competencies are more like assets. These are the things that are valuable to your brand as a leader. The more of [creative competencies] that you are exhibiting, the more effective [leaders] are in their scores and leadership effectiveness. … Creative competencies mean leaders have strength, enhance their development, and act with integrity and courage. All of this helps leaders improve their entire organizational system.

– Amber Setter
Male colleague helping team members review leadership competencies

Reactive tendencies live in the other domain of the graph. These tendencies appear when the reactive mind takes over the decision-making process without thinking. As a result, leaders who lead from a state of reactiveness tend to lead from a place of preservation rather than courage.

The bottom half are the liabilities. These reactive tendencies, like a knee-jerk reaction, may be unexamined behavior. It can be the fears inside of the mind that limit leadership effectiveness. When someone’s operating from this domain, a person is emphasizing caution over results. They [work] from self-protection over productive engagement, and they exert control over building alignment.

– Amber Setter

The universal model of leadership shows leaders where they land between creative competency and reactive tendency. Each set of results displays the balance between assets and liabilities and how those behaviors interact with each other.

Our ineffective behaviors have this canceling effect on the value we can bring to the table. Leadership liabilities show up when we’re reacting to the external world. These overextended and under-utilized competencies can usually be traced to self-limiting assumptions. This is why consciousness and performance are inextricably interwoven. If you understand [reactive tendencies], you start to know why you have a limiting belief or what’s in your way. … The more you reduce those fears and that limitation, you amplify your effectiveness as a leader.

– Amber Setter

When leaders take information from the results of the Leadership Circle Profile and apply the findings to leadership strategies, their effectiveness dramatically increases. The ability to drive away unconscious fear and move into conscious courage produces leadership behaviors constructed upon knowing their inner-self. Utilizing the self-awareness gained from universal model leadership allows you to become a more effective leader. 

The reactive mind vs. the creative mind

The results of the Leadership Circle Profile narrow leadership behaviors into two types of thinking: the reactive mind and the creative mind. The significant difference between these categories is the way thinking manifests itself. In the less developed reactive mind, leaders operate from a place of fear.

A leader who is operating from this position perceives a problem or threat [in fear]. For example, someone delegates work to a colleague. This leader’s perception is that the person they delegated the work to will not meet the leader’s standards. … They [fall] down into the fear below the surface … and take the task back to do it themselves. … What happens in this reactive stance, especially when talking about delegation, is an unwinnable game. The [leader] is overwhelmed because they always have to do the work.

– Amber Setter

A reactive mind causes leaders to work in a constant state of damage control. This method of work consistently pushes people in charge to solve conflict rather than build a successful team:

A reactive leader is in this mode of reacting to reduce conflict. They’re in problem-solver mode. They want to make things go away and get back homeostasis, back to their comfort zone, even if their comfort zone is something that’s an unhealthy and unproductive environment.

– Amber Setter

The results of this leadership style manifest themselves in burnout of the leader and their team. Consequently, turnover trends in offices with reactive leaders. To prevent burnout and turnover within their team, leaders must push through the reactive mind and into a creative mind:

Let’s shift to the creative, the effective leadership behaviors, and what we would refer to as the assets. The creative stance thinks about how one might be creating outcomes [rather than] reacting and running away from things they don’t like. In the creative stance, they are being pulled … by a sense of purpose or desire. If somebody is clear [about their purpose], that is a high place. … Their desire is that sense of pull, and they take action from there.

– Amber Setter
Male and females comparing their leadership profile competencies

In contrast to the desire for homeostasis within the reactive mind, tapping into the inner knowing of the creative mind gives leaders the ability to prioritize their responsibilities and follow their passions outside of their comfort zone. This way of thinking empowers leaders to be courageous with their leadership behavior.

The creative mind has some fundamentally different core beliefs. Instead of conflict, we see meaning. The inner anxiety that one might have is replaced with desire and passion. The leader’s not running away from problems, but running towards what matters most. They understand these [ideas]: I am powerful; I can create a life I want; I am responsible for what goes on around me.

– Amber Setter

Teams following a leader who takes steps toward purpose rather than reacting to conflict benefit from empowerment. These teams reap the rewards of clear goals and autonomy within group projects. Ultimately, firms following creative leaders become more robust than those led by reactive leaders, which leaves you with the question—how much do you use your creative mind vs. your reactive mind?

Learn more about the Leadership Circle Profile and the reactive mind vs. the creative mind

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 adequate 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. Additionally, be sure to check out Part One 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: March 31, 2022

Gusto Editors
Gusto Editors

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