Executive Master of Leadership Blog

Paul Danczyk - Understanding Self Through Others

[fa icon="calendar'] Oct 1, 2021 4:17:11 PM / by Hailey Sole

In this interview, Dr. Paul Danczyk shares some of his key insights on how one can evaluate their own leadership impacts with a 360º perspective as well as what it means to give and receive constructive feedback.

This Sunday, October 3, 2021, Cohort 15 of the USC Sol Price Executive Master of Leadership Program will have the opportunity to hear from Dr. Danczyk, Director of Executive Education in Sacramento for the University of Southern California Sol Price School of Public Policy. In preparation for this event, I had the privilege of speaking with Dr. Danczyk to garner a deeper grasp on the topic of his presentation: “Understanding Self Through Others.”


**For the sake of this article, all answers are paraphrased from the words of Dr. Danczyk.

I understand the topic you will be discussing is “Understanding Self Through Others” which dives into discovering how your own personal core values in addition to observations and feedback from others can influence one’s leadership style. That being said, why is it important for leaders to understand themselves through the lens of others rather than relying on their own core values?

Paul: While defining one’s core values is key to enhancing an individual’s internal self-awareness, relying purely on those core values does not allow for the level of external self-awareness necessary to work as an integral member of a team or organization. In being receptive to the feedback of others, we as people are able to become more mindful of our impact as leaders as well as more emotionally intelligent and evolved simply as human beings. This program, therefore, works to provide the principal tools and techniques for
individuals to evaluate themselves from a new, 360º perspective and allow a deeper
level of reflection.



I understand that you helped to develop the LeadershipEnergizes360! assessment which takes a proactive approach to how leaders can become catalysts for change. What areas of interest are addressed in this assessment and why are they important?

Paul: The tool was designed to be used as a model for evaluating an individual’s leadership impact over three main areas: Individual Behavior and Characteristics, Group and Team Processes, and Organizational Context. The assessment compiles observations from one’s peers, whom they report to, and who reports to them, creating comprehensive results based on observer feedback. There are 10 different leadership characteristics analyzed during the assessment: Self- Awareness and Professional Development, Culture and

Diversity, Communication and Engagement, and Creativity and Innovation at the individual level;  Decision Making, Team Approach, and Managing Conflict and Negotiation at the group and team level; Organizational Influence and Politics, Organizational Strategy and Structure, and Organizational Culture and Change at the organizational level. The importance of this assessment is that each leadership characteristic dives deeper into essential fundamentals of leadership, requiring individuals to ask themselves pinnacle questions such as, “Is this the person I want to
be?”, “How do I want to support my team?”, and “How can I shape the future of my organization?”

What is the best method for someone receiving feedback to reflect on it objectively, rather than emotionally?

Paul: The burden should not be placed on the receiver of the feedback, but rather, it should be placed on the giver to provide constructive feedback in a way that will allow the opportunity for substantial growth. To reach the goal of the feedback being received in an appreciative way, the responsibility falls on the giver to identify a situation neutrally and deliver commentary in a non-judgmental manner. Further, if the feedback given does not go beyond simple observation, it will not be helpful. Therefore, in order for feedback to be considered significant, it must open the door to dive even deeper and pose further questions regarding the topic at hand.


Is there a difference between applying this 360º method in the public sector versus the private sector?

Paul: The matter of whether an organization falls into the public or private sector does not matter. Providing feedback is universal. We are all human and we will always have the capacity for further growth. What matters, instead, is the culture and environment of a company. All organizations must allow the space for individuals to be vulnerable if truly constructive feedback is to be received.


What is the first step leaders can take to ensure their company is one that allows vulnerability?

Paul: As leaders, we need to model the behavior we want to see in others. This begins by asking ourselves, “Am I bringing forth the behaviors I would like to see in others?” The ability to recognize our own behaviors and reflect on how we can evolve is critical not only for the development of personal leadership skills, but, on a wider scale, can be used to foster company-wide change. Therefore, for our organizations to be vulnerable, we must first be vulnerable. It is key that we allow ourselves to be vulnerable with others if we wish for them to feel safe being vulnerable with us. And although there are risks that come along with speaking up, if we as leaders are not the ones to take the first step in modeling the behaviors we wish to see, no environment will never change.


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Topics: Innovative Leadership, leadership, Leadership Development, Leadership Styles, Leadership Skills, Communication, Entrepreneurship

Hailey Sole

Written by Hailey Sole

Hailey Sole, undergraduate student at the University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business, brings to the forefront pressing topics regarding the USC Sol Price Executive Master of Leadership Program. Beginning her professional career as a social media intern for Danima Creative Group and Contrebleu Blue Light Glass Co., she now acts as the Social Media Coordinator for USC Sol Price EML. In this position, it is her goal to explore key concepts in leadership, highlight critical advice from frontrunners in the leadership development industry, and create an overall engaging and unified EML community.

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