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Leadership Can you accept criticism of your leadership skills?

This column is part of Globe Careers' Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab

It can be difficult for leaders to get honest feedback on their effectiveness. Many developing leaders are uncomfortable asking their peers – and certainly not their staff or boss – to evaluate their skills. So how can they get the feedback necessary to help them grow?

The most effective leaders, whether on Wall Street or Bay Street, have one thing in common: they are comfortable in their own skin and project confidence.

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Here's a new process that can help leaders mature their executive walk: the degree of confidence they have in their ability to lead. Leaders who have developed their executive walk consistently show onlookers their confidence, control and drive.

This new process is called 360 In Vivo. It challenges leaders to put themselves into situations where they ask for feedback on their skills from their colleagues.

The leader completes a confidential self-evaluation similar to a 360-degree process – where employees or leaders receive anonymous feedback from the people who work with them. The twist is that they can activate this free tool on their own time and reap the benefits without wading through any administrative steps. The 360 In Vivo process has been designed to be simple.

The 360 In Vivo provides leaders an opportunity to discover insights on their core competencies as well as to self-evaluate their confidence to interact, influence and communicate with others.

Here's how the process works:

1. Review the 360 In Vivo PowerPoint document. It outlines gives background on leadership reviews, what you need to do to complete the 360 In Vivo, how to set up meetings and track your feedback.

2. Go online and complete your confidential 360 In Vivo self-evaluation. This tool has been developed based on a validated leadership core competency profile created by the University of New Brunswick.

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3. Pick four or five raters from people who work with you – those whom you think will be honest and forthright in your 360 In Vivo feedback conversations.

4. Follow the detailed instructions in the 360 In Vivo PowerPoint for setting up the feedback conversations.

5. Book your feedback conversations and have your raters provide their feedback. Use the Executive Walk Measure form to help keep track of your conversations.

6. Evaluate your own responses compared to those of your raters.

7. Act on the key learnings from your study.

Leaders who use the 360 In Vivo challenge themselves to get feedback that can help them advance their careers. It takes a commitment and effort for a leader to mature to their full potential. A significant percentage of leaders fail because they are not aware of the areas where they need to improve, aren't open to feedback or motivated to challenge themselves to learn and grow.

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If in this process you uncover leadership core competency gaps and you are unsure what to do, consider interviewing an executive coach to discover what a coach may be able to do for you. Coaching is a powerful tool for one-on-one leadership development. To learn more about coaching and how coaching can help leaders, go to the International Coaching Federation website.

Bill Howatt (@billhowatt) is president of Howatt HR Consulting in Kentville, N.S.

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