We the Partnership

How our 360 assessment helps create better government leaders

By Emily Kalnicky, Christina Schiavone, Nadzeya Shutava | July 14, 2021

Many of the federal leaders we work with ask how they can better assess their leadership abilities and opportunities for growth. We built the Partnership’s Public Service Leadership Model and 360 assessment tool to help leaders better understand how they can improve their leadership skills and develop the competencies to lead in government. 

Launched in June 2020, this comprehensive, multi-rater assessment tool has been used by almost 1,000 federal leaders. As we approach the second anniversary of the Public Service Leadership Model and the one-year mark of incorporating the 360 tool into our programming, we wanted to reflect on how our assessment can help strengthen—and provide a better understanding of—government leadership. 

The 360 assessment: what it is and why we developed one 

A 360-degree assessment is a method of gathering feedback that enables clients, managers, peers, direct reports and others to evaluate an employee’s skills. This feedback is also compared to the employee’s self-evaluation, giving a 360-degree look at one’s performance. These assessments have been used for several decades in business coaching and leadership development, often with organizations developing their own 360 tools to meet specific needs and objectives. 

The Partnership created the 360 tool to support the application of the Public Service Leadership Model. This assessment is based on the distinct skills needed in public service and allows leaders at various levels to evaluate their performance.

Understanding the effectiveness of the 360 assessment 

All great 360 assessment tools are statistically validated, regularly tested, revised and improved over time. We partnered with an established leadership studies scholar, Dr. Ulrich Jensen, to assess whether our 360 tool truly identifies an individual’s strengths and areas for improvement. 

His analysis and review confirmed that our 360 tool accurately measures the four core competencies and the 23 subcompetencies of our Public Service Leadership Model. Our tool is both reliable and valid, meaning that it gives similar results if used multiple times and accurately measures abstract concepts—like leadership—as intended.  

Using 360 data to better understand what it means to lead in government 

Over the past year we have expanded the use of our 360 assessment with government leaders at all levels, from emerging leaders to senior executives. The power of this tool—its reliability, validity and the impact it has on individual leaders across government—will help public servants cultivate stronger stewardship and leadership skills throughout their careers.  

We are also analyzing the 360 data to develop a clearer picture of what leading in government looks like. The data will help us evaluate critical leadership trends, refine our programs and better understand the overall government leadership experience. We will start by using the data to examine possible trends in effective crisis leadership and the experience of women who lead in government. 

We designed the Public Service Leadership Model to be the standard for effective government leadership—and we now have a sound assessment tool for leaders to use as they grow their skills. We encourage you to consider how the Partnership’s 360-degree assessment tool could help you become a stronger leader—for your team, your agency and, ultimately, the public good. 

For more information about how the Public Service Leadership Model 360 assessment can help you or your team, please contact Rachel Klein-Kircher and learn more about our leadership development programs.


Emily Kalnicky
Christina Schiavone
Nadzeya Shutava