Tag Archive for: leader

We all have blind spots

Despite our sincere efforts to be a good leader, we all have blind spots – behaviors that are harmful to our leadership and we are unaware of. And because we don’t see them, we just keep managing the demands in front of us, with our blind spots leaving a destructive wake. Just as there is always a gap between what we espouse in our culture and the reality of our culture, there is always a gap between the self we think we present and the way others see us.

Unacknowledged blind spots will limit your impact and diminish your overall leadership capacity.

Five strategies for working with your blind spots:

  1. Make working with your blind spots a priority. Accept that you have them – we all do – and be committed to uncovering them. It’s not the blind spots per se, that are destructive. It’s our unwillingness to see them and work with them.
  2. Be curious. Carve out time for self-reflection. If we’re honest with ourselves, we have a sense of what our blind spots are. For me, one is when results aren’t immediate, and I’m stressed from not having the control of the outcomes. And when I’m stressed, I’m tense, and I question the impact I am having on my team. Other blind spot possibilities to consider include insensitivity to your people in a drive for results, over-valuing being right, a lack of strategic thinking, inflexibility, etc.
  3. Get regular feedback from people who know you and will tell you the truth. Feedback can come from a trusted confidant, a coach, or a support group. It can also come from your team – even if you start by making it anonymous.
  4. Acknowledge your blind spots and ask your team to elaborate. In my case, Marg, my VP of Client Care, elaborated on my blind spot when she explained that when results are down I have a tendency to disconnect from my vision, get stubborn and rigid, and resort to black-and-white thinking. This diminishes and disrespects the efforts of the team, while dis-inspiring people. Tension is contagious, and the team withdraws.
  5. Thank your team for their courage, recommit to make a change, and ask for their support. I find it useful, at this point, to craft an accountability agreement for how we will help each other grow.

Working with your blind spots is less about a destination and more about a method of travel.

Openly embracing your blind spots on a regular, ongoing basis restores your commitment to grow, keeps your vision fresh, and is a way for your team to continue to build courage, trust, and openness with each other.

Christmas Is About Opening Your Heart, Not Your Wallet

I heard a great quote this week on a movie trailer: “I don’t like Christmas, but I like getting presents.” This could be said about me. Every year I say to myself, “I don’t like all the materialism that comes with Christmas… Santa is a myth perpetrated by the consumer marketplace to get people spending in the fourth quarter!”

But then I stopped to examine what was really going on. If I were truly honest with myself, this righteous attitude was an excuse to let my wife do all the shopping. After all, “I’m busy at work, earning money so we can afford presents. I’m doing more important things than hanging around crowded malls full of materialistic shoppers.”

But something in me woke up this year. I started to realize how I have not only abdicated my responsibility for shopping, but in the process, kept my heart closed.

Even though I procrastinated my shopping, this week I am actually getting into the stores, but more importantly I am getting into my heart. And it’s been good for me to tune in to the people I care most about and ask, “How can the most important people in my  life feel loved right now?” It’s a question that needs answering all year round, but this time of year awakens us to the importance of the question. In the words of Charles Dickens,“I have always thought of Christmas as a good time, a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time. It’s the only time in the long calendar of the year when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely and to think of people around them as fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”

Bringing this attitude into the season has opened me to love and gratefully connected me to my soul, to my fellow travelers on this human experience, and to the spirit of life that goes well beyond the meaningless purchasing of presents under the pressure of another to-do list.

And then, I had a conversation with a friend this morning who just returned from visiting his dying sister. He talked of the unsung heroes in our world, not the philanthropic executives who donate money to charity this time of year to make a public appearance of benevolence. The real heroes are people who serve and give to their communities every day of the year without any expectation of personal or public recognition. An example are dying patients who, in the midst of their own suffering, comfort a fellow patient lying in a bed next to them.

Christmas brings to our attention our life-giving need to love and realize our connection to each other. It truly is about the heart, not the wallet (even though the wallet is be a good place to start if there’s money there).

What is your experience of love, both now and after the glow of the season is extinguished?