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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.