Leadership Blind Spots
by Jeff Saari
I think most of us have been in the position of going to change lanes in our car only
to be honked at. Simply put, the other driver was in our blind spot — that area to the right or left of the vehicle that nothing can be seen from the side mir- rors. If you are going slowly, this “blind spot” mistake can cause a scare or a fender bender or simply an inconvenience. Going fast it can cause major damage, injury or death.
Our leadership is analogous to this concept because what we don’t see about ourselves can have a minor or major impact on our business or team.
Behaviors you can’t see
In my work with leaders all around the Monadnock Region, part of my role is to ferret out these blind spots so we can drive more soundly and safely. A blind spot is just that, a behavior that you can’t see; it is just part of how you act and hasn’t been open thus far to self-scrutiny.
The blind spot usually isn’t in- tentional, yet it is there. Leader- ship blind spots run the gamut: avoidance, impatience, inter- rupting people, aggression, lead- ing bad meetings, not sharing in- formation, and not setting clear expectations, to name a few.
For example, I recently sat down with an executive direc-
tor who is having trouble with an employee of many years. The “problem employee” is also a manager and was plagued with many leadership blind spots. The executive director hired me to help this manager become more attuned to the blind spots and work on ways to overcome them. The blind spots have grown to such a degree that employees neither liked nor trusted him.
Everyone has blind spots
I think we can all relate to this above example. But let me make it clear: Everyone has blind spots! Even the most consci- entious leaders among us have them from time to time.
At first, when you are on the path to emotional intelligence it can feel unsettling to discover your blind spot(s).
As leaders and managers, we can get avoidant, get defensive, or beat ourselves up internally when the discovery is made. The discomfort of having the light shone on a lesser area of strength can indeed be uncom- fortable, but it also can be a great message, a great opportunity to grow, learn and collaborate.
So try this: If you want to know how you impact others in your organization, simply ask them. It may take time to build a trusting culture where people feel comfortable actually tell- ing you their truth, but it will be worth it in the long run if you are genuinely curious
Another option is to do a 360 Degree Feedback* to have a cross-section of people in the business give you feedback. However you obtain this critical information, start on the jour- ney today, it will be well worth it.
*360 Degree Feedback is a pro- cess where employees receive con – dential, anonymous feedback from the people who work around them (managers, peers, etc.). T