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Article | Executive Pay Memo – UK

Looking at yourself with 2020 vision

Executive Compensation

By Stephanie Rudbeck and Nicole Albutt | January 17, 2020

Insights into four key ways your leaders can grow their self-awareness, and hone their vision for the year ahead.

Leadership effectiveness is undeniably a defining factor in company success. If you think of some of the most successful and fast-growing companies of this century, you can attribute much of that to the leader standing front and centre. Think of the Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Sheryl Sandbergs of this world! But what is it that really makes successful leaders tick? According to them, a key factor is their 2020 vision… of themselves. In other words, their self-awareness, is often developed through various forms of feedback. 

Feedback can come in many shapes and sizes, and from very different perspectives. One perspective is self-evaluation which, although no doubt useful, may not give you what you need in isolation. The real value comes when we can consider different perspectives in tandem.

This article will explore what we believe to be the four key perspectives to consider to help your leaders hone their 2020 vision. 

Let’s take a look at an a overview of each of these perspectives…

  1. 01


    • Self-report psychometric tests reflect an individual’s perception about their working style, behaviour, and effectiveness.
    • We know that good psychometrics can be an indicator of how people are likely to operate in the workplace, but there can be misalignments between how an individual judges their own capability and the truth of how they operate (can you say “imposter syndrome”?). Luckily there are ways to mitigate these, by looking at an individual’s tendency to be overly critical, or overly positive about themselves, but it’s still useful to seek other input.

    This works well when you are trying to help your leaders take the first steps into building their self-awareness.

  2. 02

    Relating your perceptions of self to what your peers think of you

    • 360 feedback allows an individual to see key areas of alignment and misalignment in their own and others’ perceptions. ‘Bob’ may think he is incredibly collaborative, but maybe his team finds him overbearing in meetings. Maybe this perception is limited to one group of feedback providers – for example his direct reports may find him overbearing, where his peers see him as a true team player.
    • This is both insightful and powerful in increasing self-awareness, but it also helps individuals zoom in on areas of focus, where small changes in their actions may have a huge impact on their teams and their business.

    This builds on self-awareness by providing alternative viewpoints to create a 360 view.

  3. 03

    Comparing yourself to other leaders

    • Benchmarking can add another dimension to both self-reporting and 360 measures – just like pay benchmarking, making robust comparisons is key to understanding competitiveness. In the same way, by comparing an individual’s results with a valid comparator group, we gain more insight into the data. Your comparator groups might include leaders in your geography, or a broader sample of peers.
    • Benchmarking allows us to view how typical the response is of a broader group, and therefore to see any similarities or any ‘extremes’.
    • This is again hugely powerful to increase self-awareness. ‘Sandra’ may know that she is competitive, but may perceive this to be the norm. Relating her results with a comparator group can help her to see that others do not necessarily have the same levels of competitiveness.

    This helps to contextualise self-evaluation and 360 feedback.

  4. 04

    Considering your part on the whole

    • Last but by no means least – the group profile.
    • We all know there’s no ‘I’ in team (although there is a ‘me’ if you look hard enough). But seriously, understanding the strengths and challenges of a team that work together is vital for improving overall group cohesion and performance.
    • It can help to highlight conflicts in working style, and allow individuals to understand how they can flex their style and delivery mechanism to meet the needs of others in the team.
    • It can also flag the areas where all group members need to have an impact to “plug a gap”. Developing an understanding of a group’s profile, and, more importantly, working to create a group of diverse thinking styles, helps to foster higher performance.

    This can help to improve group dynamics and performance for groups that frequently work together.

This case study below highlights the power of combining these tools:

Context: A professional services firm needed a method for increasing self-awareness as part of their leadership development programme, in order to drive the most effective behaviours linked to organisation success.

Approach: Participants completed assessments to help them reflect on and understand their leadership style in detail. 360 degree feedback was also administered, to help participants understand how others perceived them, and how this compared with their self-assessment.

Each participant had a one to one debrief with a trained feedback provider to review and help interpret their reports, discussing their feedback in a confidential environment. A group profile was generated and used in a face to face development programme module, to facilitate a discussion on team dynamics and impact.

Outcome: Participants reported that the self-awareness module and one to ones were one of, it not the most valuable parts of the development programme.

Willis Towers Watson’s View

Put simply, there is no single correct way to gather data and insight into a leader’s effectiveness.Instead there is a menu of options to select from. Each one has value in its own right, but combining these data sources and taking a holistic view unlocks the latent power that each source cannot realise in isolation.

As you move into this new decade, we urge you to help your leaders sharpen their vision – why not aim for 2020, given that we’re here anyway? Make sure it’s your best year yet!

If you’d like to know more please contact Stephanie Rudbeck and Nicole Albutt.


Senior Director - Talent Management & Organizational Development

Nicole Albutt
Consultant – Talent and Rewards

Nicole Albutt works with global organizations across sectors on leadership capability and development.

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