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Score or Frequency?

By Peter Pearson - 2nd May 2013

In creating 20Q, one of the questions we had to face very early on was

How should it be scored - by ranking how well the behaviour is done, or how frequently an action is carried out?

In this very politically correct world of ours there can be a reluctance to give a judgement - to say that one thing is better than another. Also, it could seem that commenting on how frequently an action is carried out is more objective and less prone to bias than saying how well an action is carried out.

With some leadership behaviours there is a good overlap between the frequency of an action and how well it is done. Let’s consider Q7:

I face up to difficult issues in my team and tackle them in a professional and successful way

If a leader did this ‘all the time’ it would mean that they were very good at this behaviour - and if they seldom did this it could mean it was an area for improvement. There is a very good correspondence between the frequency of the behaviour and how well it is done.

But now consider a different kind of question, Q1:

I create a shared vision for the team so that everyone knows the direction we are heading

There are different ways for a leader to create a shared vision within the team. Some have a very strong vision themselves, and their role is to sell the vision to get buy-in. Other leaders aren’t naturally so strong in vision themselves, but they are good at listening to others’ ideas and democratically building up a vision that is created by team members and therefore strongly owned by them.

Either way can be very effective (and both are better than working with a complete absence of vision and direction). However it is very hard to measure this in terms of frequency. A leader may talk about vision a lot, but not do it very well and fail to gain the vital buy-in that makes a vision a shared one. In this case its not the frequency that is important - it is how well it is done. Trying to set the question in terms of frequency leads to a lack of clarity.

In the past I’ve had to work with other diagnostics that have produced very bland reports. People have had to spend a lot of time (and money) answering hundreds of questions and ended up with something with a very limited range of scores. The image that comes to my mind is of a large bowl of blamange - maybe inoffensive but not really very helpful for seeing how to grow as a leader.

So, we bit the bullet and went for a scoring system designed clearly to separate the outstanding from the very good, the very good from the good, the good from the satisfactory and the satisfactory from the undeveloped. No one has yet scored all 6s, (or all 5s or 4s or 3s or 2s for that matter.) Leadership encompasses a wide range of behaviours and this is reflected in the varied profiles that our customers receive. This is where the insights and the growth begins!

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"From the information the questionnaire generated it gave me a lot of information which I could use to analyse my management performance and look at areas which need development. It also highlighted many positives which is important as I feel that as teachers we tend to concentrate on what went wrong or what needs improving whilst forgetting to take into account what we do well ."
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