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Next Level Leadership is a leadership development process based on observer feedback. It improves the effectiveness of any leader by focusing on building and maintaining trust in the leader.

Next Level Leadership (NLL) uses a fresh and innovative approach that is practical, theoretically sound and highly focused for each individual leader. By using the NLL process leaders can appreciate more accurately the specific trust-building behaviours that he/she needs to adopt in order to be trusted by the people they work with. NLL is especially valuable for leaders operating in an international or global contact, as it allows them to understand how people from different backgrounds respond differently to his/her leadership style. It enables leaders to view feedback through the normal, traditional groupings, but also through different ‘lenses’, such as location, nationality, age or gender. There is plenty of evidence that a trusted leader is more effective and can promote creativity and innovation, enhance communication, lead people through change more easily, and achieve higher levels of employee engagement.

10 Leadership Trust Criteria

How does the Next Level Leadership pick up different cultural perspectives?

One of the difficulties that all global leaders face is responding to people with different national and cultural backgrounds and different ways of understanding the world. Providing leadership to a direct report or a team from Japan may require a different approach to leading people from the United States. Differences in personal preferences such as ‘Long Term Orientation’ and ‘Uncertainty Avoidance may lead to very different expectations and needs from followers. (see Hofstede Insights for further examples of country differences.)
The Trusted Leadership Indicator questionnaire can be set up to provide feedback to leaders, enabling them to understand how people from different current locations or from different cultural backgrounds experience their leadership and the extent to which those people experience trust deficits. By understanding these different perceptions, a leader can learn to adopt different trust-building behaviours in different contexts.

What is the theoretical basis for the Next Level Leadership?

Many organisations use competency-based 360 instruments that are linked into other HR functions. These have proved successful in some respects, although there have also been many problems with this approach when used in relation to the development of senior leaders. For example, these standard competency-based approaches do not allow for different cultural perspectives in terms of followership engagement and motivation.

Next Level Leadership is different in two respects. First, it actually asks observers what leadership behaviours they are most likely to respond well to in terms of trust and engagement. Second, the questionnaire is based on the well-researched theoretical concept that trusted leaders are more effective leaders. References for this can be found in the Product Resources Panel on the right-hand sidebar of this page.

Based on the research, we have identified 10 trust criteria which form the basis of the Next Level Leadership questionnaire and feedback.  Each trust criterion is based on 5  associated trust-building behaviours.

So we have created the Next Level Leadership questionnaire which takes into account the specific perspectives of the observer stakeholders, including the different cultural lenses through which they view their leaders.

How is Next Level Leadership feedback arranged?

One of the unique features of the NLL is the way that feedback is dealt with. The leader receives access to an online site where they can explore and interact with the feedback information in their own time and in private. On the site the leader goes through a guided journey so that they can consider the feedback from different perspectives. How does my line manager view my leadership and can I do more to build his trust in my leadership? For which of the 10 trust criteria am I meeting the expectations of my observers? Where do my own scores differ from those of my observer groups and why? The leader is encouraged to reflect on all the feedback information and record his/her conclusions and thoughts as they work though the information. Once this work is completed they can print off all the information they have recorded in preparation for a meeting with a coach. The coach will then meet and work with the leader in order to create a personal development plan.

How can I use the Next Level Leadership to identify trust-building behaviours that are specifically suited to my leadership role and context?

The NLL online questionnaire contains 50 trust-based questions to be rated by the leader’s observers. It asks observers to rate the leader for each behaviour in terms of how they experience his or her leadership. In addition – unlike many 360 instruments – it asks what behaviours they need from the leader if they are to trust him or her. So, from the feedback information, leaders can work on specific trust-building behaviours to enhance the trust of different observer groups. As well as the 50 rated questions in the questionnaire there are 2 open text questions which enable the leader to refine their understanding of the views of the different observer groups.

We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.

Bill Gates

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Key features of the product are:

  • It is based on research about the importance of a leader being seen as ‘trusted’ by the people he or she leads. This aspect of leadership is closely and positively related to engagement, innovation, readiness to accept change, open communication, and overall team effectiveness.
  • It measures the extent to which a leader is seen as trusted against 10, culturally inclusive criteria, by the people he or she leads. It raises the leader’s self-awareness and enables him/her to monitor and manage these perceptions through good times and bad.
  • It also measures the relative importance of the 10 criteria of a trusted leader as experienced by the people he/she leads and so identifies the gap between what they want and what they are actually experiencing from the leader. For example, different culturally based observer groups may place different emphasis on each of the criteria.
  • This 360-degree personal development process is designed to provide the leader with feedback on the behaviours that lead those around them at work to regard them as ‘trusted’.
  • It provides a flexible way of collecting information from a range of observer groups (e.g. different national groups, functional groups or traditional 360 observer groups).

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