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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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The Power of a CEO 360 Review

Comments (14)

I recently sat through an annual CEO 360 review at a company that has been very serious about executive development since inception.  It reminded me how powerful this is when it’s done correctly.

In this particular case, the entire board and management team had an hour-long facilitated discussion without the CEO in the room.  The facilitator is not an employee of the company but has worked with the entire management team on executive development as they’ve grown over the past 5+ years.

This company is doing extremely well and the CEO is excellent.  However, the fact that he’s comfortable enough with himself (and his team) to step out of the room and allow us (board and management) to have a candid, direct, confidential discussion is an important message to everyone.

Most interestingly to me was the value of the conversation.  Even though this group has worked together for a long time, the company continues to evolve and the CEO knows he has opportunities to continue to grow.  By having this type of a candid conversation across the team and the board, it creates real clarity around where the personal growth opportunities for the CEO are.

A minority of the companies I’m on the board of do this but this particular CEO 360 Review motivated me to rethink that and encourage it in more cases.

  • http://joshguttman.com josh guttman

    I’m a huge believer in exec coaching. I’ve been working with a guy (who actually lives in Boulder) via telephone for a few years and it’s proved hugely valuable on team issues, motivation, strategy, general communication and personal skill development. Gotten back every bit of effort I’ve invested and then some.

  • http://mikehartcxo.wordpress.com Mike Hart

    I have been the subject of a 360 review as CEO and I thought the feedback was very useful. In my case it was facilitated by the comp committee of the board, but I like the idea of an outside facilitator much better. There would be less bias introduced through the process.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=560762853 Brian Keith

    Good stuff Brad. If you’re at all interested, I wrote short piece about the 14 Leadership Traits that I learned in the Marine Corps…http://tinyurl.com/y9h9hgd Be thrilled to get your feedback, Brian

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Just read this list – it’s excellent.

  • Mark

    And hey – since it is so valuable to put the CEO under the spotlight – here’s another idea. An investor 360 review. Let’s put each of the board members on stage, one by one, and have an honest discussion about their performance and value add to the company.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      I think that is a fantastic idea. I’m happy to be subjected to that
      any day, any time.

      I just wish you were confident enough in it to leave your real email address!

  • Reginald Flanagan

    This is the exact thing needed in our current financial environment. I have been providing CEOs with evaluations on a regular basis in my career but at the same time trying to protect them from the truth. We need to blast our CEOs with reality. If you hold back all other executives work themselves to death and the CEO relaxes to see action. We don’t have the capital and time for the classic lazy CEO to be on top anymore. Why not establish a CEO evaluation service that is paid for by the company and overseen by the board?

  • Anonymous

    They’re great for the CEOs, too! :-)

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      There are lots of consultants who do this for very reasonable rates so
      I think the businesses have already been set up!

  • Davidifishman

    What happens after the CEO 360 review? How is the conversation distilled, turned into a an action oriented opportunity, and then communicated to the CEO? In this company do these conversations, results, etc…get tracked year over year? I am in the process of creating my next company and am doing alot of thinking about culture (to provide some background on the questions). Very cool idea!

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Yes – the facilitator collects the feedback, distills in into a
      document that is discussed with the CEO and part of his development
      plan for the next year. Then it’s reviewed prior to the following
      year review.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Yes – the facilitator collects the feedback, distills in into a
      document that is discussed with the CEO and part of his development
      plan for the next year. Then it’s reviewed prior to the following
      year review.

  • Davidifishman

    What happens after the CEO 360 review? How is the conversation distilled, turned into a an action oriented opportunity, and then communicated to the CEO? In this company do these conversations, results, etc…get tracked year over year? I am in the process of creating my next company and am doing alot of thinking about culture (to provide some background on the questions). Very cool idea!

  • http://www.leadershipconsulting.com Carl Robinson, Ph.D.

    I conduct CEO 360 reviews on a regular basis for both developmental purposes and to get a read on – is this CEO cut out to lead this company into the future? It takes guts to go through one of these and, frequently, the results are not what the CEO wants to hear, but are what they need to hear. CEOs with healthy egos can use this type of assessment to help them accelerate their growth, if they are willing to use the data to fine tune how they go about leading. I concur with the idea that it would be great if the Board would also subject itself to a review of this type. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard CEOs lament about the challenges they have trying to get their board members to work more effectively together, but the board members never ask, “What can I do differently to help the CEO or the Board work more effectively?”

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