Leadership performance review template and process explained

Leadership performance review template and process explained

Not all great leaders are born, but you can cultivate them through proper leadership development strategies. Leadership is crucial for visionary businesses seeking growth, profitability, and talent retention. Forbes puts it bluntly by stating, ‘businesses don’t fail, but leaders do’ – a truth and a call to action for all business leaders.

With that said, high-achieving leaders are not honed overnight. Leadership development is an ongoing process that you integrate with your organization’s appraisal system. Leaders require continuous feedback on various aspects of their professional and individual qualities. Then, they review the feedback, take action to address any shortcomings, and accentuate their strengths.

In this guide, I’ll share leadership performance review templates that help you cultivate capable leaders in your team. I’ll also share essential steps to implement the assessment effectively and derive valuable insights. More importantly, you’ll learn how to use Plai to set up and automate leadership performance reviews easily. 

How does the leadership performance review process work? 

Leadership appraisals allow organizations to evaluate managers’ competencies in different areas. This ensures that managers continue to effectively lead their subordinates, manage projects, and cultivate strong understandings with the top management. During the review, participants observe and rate various leadership competencies, qualities, and skills.

To improve the performance review results, we recommend using the 360 review method when assessing your leaders. 360 reviews enable various parties to assess the manager. This includes their superiors, peers, subordinates, clients, and vendors. Doing so allows leaders to learn their behaviors, skills, and communication style from different perspectives. 

Here’s how to set up leadership performance reviews for your managers.

Stages 

Allow ample time to prepare, implement and analyze the leaders’ performance. This means segregating the evaluation process into 3 stages. 

  • The first stage is allocating ample time to all participants, including the manager, to fill up the evaluation form. To ensure that the evaluation is fair, do this simultaneously for all participants. Allow 2-3 weeks for all participants to answer the questions thoroughly. 
  • Then, you collect and consolidate all the scores from all participants. Compare the different results to form a conclusion and provide general recommendations in your report.
  • Finally, you interview the manager in a 1:1 session, explore areas of improvement, and help them create a personal development plan based on the report.
Leadership performance review process in Plai
Leadership performance review steps: example in Plai

Participants 

You determine the recipient and reviewers for the leadership evaluation. The manager being evaluated is the recipient while reviewers consist of individuals with professional interactions with the recipient. For example, the manager is reviewed by fellow managers, team members, and senior managers. Ideally, the manager should also self-evaluate their performance and compare the result with feedback from other participants. 

Frequency  

The ideal frequency between subsequent leadership performance reviews is 1 year. This provides a sufficient timeline for managers to act on past feedback and track their progress. However, ongoing feedback is still essential between formal evaluations. Therefore, we recommend integrating peer-to-peer feedback with the regular 1:1 sessions. Alternatively, you can use Plai to schedule timely continuous feedback to managers.

Criteria 

Determine criteria that enable participants to evaluate the manager in different performance-related areas. These are some evaluation criteria that help to benchmark the manager’s performance.

Leadership competencies 

This quality describes the manager’s capability to lead effectively at various levels – self, team, and organization. It consists of the ability, qualities, and traits like strategic planning, managing professional relationships, effective communications, and professional coaching.

Leadership skills

Leaders are professionals who possess managerial skills honed through training or experience. For example, their ability to delegate, persuade, plan, execute and negotiate. 

Leadership qualities

Leaders need to be role models for their teams. Therefore, this criterion allows them to be evaluated on humane qualities, such as accountability, thoughtfulness, vision, integrity, and ethics. 

Leadership abilities 

Leaders are key people who steer the organization forward. As such, they must demonstrate their ability to effect change, motivate, drive, or adapt. 

Leadership styles

Each leader brings a unique combination of traits, skills, experience, and competencies to the job. This results in diverse leadership styles, including democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional, and strategic. Understanding the manager’s leadership style helps align them with the organization’s culture. 

Type of mindset

Mindset separates great leaders from the pack. Evaluating this criterion allows leaders to explore if they are resourceful, decisive, humble, optimist, and ready to take on challenges. 

Behaviors

Good leadership behaviors shape a conducive workplace and high-performing teams. For example, great leaders practice active listening, are punctual, and are open to constructive criticism. 

Values

This describes the fundamental ethics that shape the leader’s persona. For example, desirable leadership values include honesty, respect, humility, wisdom, and confidence.  

Goals 

Goals include KPIs and OKRs that the manager has set. Evaluating this criterion provides insight into the leader’s commitment, discipline, and resourcefulness in achieving the goals. 

Team performance

A leader’s capability is reflected by their team performance, both objectively and subjectively. For example, you can evaluate the team objectively with metrics like sales, revenue, profits, and productivity. Meanwhile, subjective team evaluation includes qualitative observations, such as efficiency, by external parties. 

Team spirit 

A leader’s charisma is contagious, and it affects team spirit. Teams that are positive, open, and ready to accept constructive feedback show that they have a capable leader in their pack. Meanwhile, a dispirited team might indicate that they do not share the same ideals with the leader or have different work styles. 

Integrating team goals and leadership performance is easy with Plai. Plai’s context panel allows you to add questions relevant to the manager’s evaluation goals. When recipients answer the questions, Plai automatically consolidates them with the manager’s evaluation data. Plai also allows participants to revisit their past reviews and eliminate recency bias, where recent events might influence evaluation scores. 

Revisit past goals in leadership performance review with Plai
Example: how to revisit past goals in leadership review with context panel in Plai

Retention rate

Employees don’t leave companies; they leave managers. This statement reflects the leadership gap in organizations. If your company suffers from a low retention rate, you need an objective leadership performance review, and strong follow-up actions. 

Visibility of results 

To ensure fairness, make the results available and transparent for the manager and the evaluators. For example, the HR, CEO, and the evaluated appraisee have full access to the performance review results. Ideally, the manager and the evaluators should receive the comprehensive report simultaneously. At the same time, you must ensure that the scores are hidden from other participants. 

HR teams relying on conventional spreadsheets for performance review find it challenging to share results while safeguarding privacy. Accidentally exposing confidential results risk jeopardizing workplace harmony and trust in the evaluation system. Therefore, many HR teams use Plai to share evaluation results discreetly.

Automate visibility in leadership reviews
Automating leadership performance reviews with Plai

Result 

You get the final result by collecting and consolidating the evaluations from all participants. Based on the participants' scores, metrics, and comments, the manager will have a fair benchmark of their competencies, leadership qualities, skills, and other traits. To analyze the result, we recommend using Plai’s Radar Chart, which provides a visual indicator of how a manager leans towards different qualities. 

The result sets a foundation for 1:1 discussions where HR and the manager explore opportunities for improvements, build on strengths, plan career growth, and have an open conversation on mutual expectations. 

Leadership strengths performance review in Plai
Analyzing leadership strengths in 360 performance reviews with Plai

Take actions 

Leadership performance review continues beyond 1:1 discussions. To fully benefit from its implementation, personal meetings with managers must lead to proactive actions. Whether addressing identified weaknesses, strengthening good behaviors, or pursuing specific managerial skills, the evaluation scores must translate into concrete and affirmative actions. 

This involves managers discussing their personal development plans with their evaluators or superiors. They describe what they wish to improve, set reasonable milestones and celebrate wins when they achieve them. By striving their best to meet the goals, managers became a better version of themselves and strong leaders for the organization. 

Effectiveness 

Leadership performance reviews are only effective when you assign the right participants. As the reviews are held every 12 months, the participants must have ample interactions with the manager to objectively describe their skills, competencies, and other leadership qualities. This ensures the review is free from personal bias and assumptions that create inaccurate results. 

For example, immediate subordinates can comment on the manager’s leadership style as they communicate daily. Meanwhile, fellow managers can suggest skills the recipient lacks and can benefit from when honed. Superiors, such as senior managers and the CEO, are in the best position to offer advice on career development and growth potential in the company. 

Questions & competencies examples 

Generally, a performance review is a formal exercise that evaluates leaders based on their competencies. Therefore, it’s crucial to define what leadership competencies are. In simple words, competencies describe leaders' qualities, skills, behaviors, and values. As leaders are unique individuals, each will possess strengths in different competencies.

While leadership competencies vary, an HBR survey involving 195 global leaders revealed 5 major groups of competencies: 

  • Strong ethics & safety
  • Self-organizing
  • Efficient learning
  • Nurtures growth
  • Connection and belonging

These competencies provide an overall assessment of a manager's performance in a company. However, they must be broken down into detailed, concise questions to be helpful in an evaluation. Our experts share 4 types of questions that help HR design their evaluation around the top leadership competencies. You can also download the following leadership performance review template in PDF free here. 

Open-ended questions

Open-ended questions allow leaders to express themselves beyond the confines of the given options. It facilitates open discussion or thoughts that help evaluators uncover valuable insights during the evaluation. We suggest asking open-ended questions during the feedback session after filling up the evaluation form. However, you can include some open questions as part of the review template if it helps you to meet specific evaluation goals.

These are examples of open-ended questions.

Self-evaluation

  1. How could you describe your leadership style?
  2. What is your biggest achievement as a leader during this evaluation period?
  3. What is your biggest failure as a leader during this evaluation period?

Reviewers’ evaluation:

  1. How could you describe the leadership style of the recipient?
  2. What is the recipient's superpower (super skill) in your mind?
  3. What skills/competencies should the recipient develop/improve?

Linear scale questions

You use linear scale questions to allow an approximation of evaluation criteria. Participants choose a score from a given scale that reflects their perception and understanding of the recipient. Such an approach is suitable for well-defined criteria—for example, competencies, skills, abilities, and qualities.

We suggest that you determine the evaluation criteria before implementing the evaluation. Consider the manager’s persona, goals, and strategic purposes when doing so.  These are some evaluation criteria that work well with linear scale questions: 

  1. Leadership competencies/skills:
    - Strategic planning
    - Empathy and emotional intelligence
    - Social Intelligence/negotiations skills 
    - Effective communications
    - Nonviolent communications
    - Goal setting
    - Planning and delivering
    - Coaching and mentoring
  1. Leadership qualities/abilities:
    - System/vision thinking
    - Analytical ability 
    - Positive thinking
    - Self-reflection
    - Self-awareness
    - Flexibility
    - Adaptivity
    - Decision-making

Then, create the scales for evaluation. For example:  

Scale 1

1 – Low level of development;
2 – Average level of development;
3 – High level of development;

Scale 2

1 - Needs Improvement;
2 - Partially Meeting Expectations;
3 - Meets Expectations;
4 - Exceeding Expectations;

Scale 3

1 - Below Expectations;
2 - Meets Expectations;
3 - Exceeds Expectations;
4 – Greatly Exceeds Expectations;
5 - Outstanding;

Remember to let participants comment on why they decide on a particular score.

Multiple-choice questions

These questions are not commonly used in leadership performance evaluations but are helpful in specific circumstances. For example, HR uses multiple-choice questions to determine managers' dominant behaviors. They provide several statements like the ones below, and allow participants to explain their choice. 

  1. The recipient leads with empathy.
  2. The recipient gives and accepts feedback effectively
  3. The recipient develops his/herself systematically 

Checkboxes

Checkboxes are helpful when you’re preparing a personal development framework and offering recommendations to the manager. They also enable HR to evaluate overlapping leadership qualities, such as the manager's leadership style, mindset, and values. 

Use this template in Plai

With just a few clicks, use this template in Plai for leadership review. You can customize questions, timelines, participants, and visibility settings. Get access to insightful reports on leadership performance and discuss them during 1-1s. Plai replaces cumbersome spreadsheets and brings all performance evaluation tools to a single dashboard. It helps you chart actionable follow-ups and build a team of capable leaders. Try a free trial.

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