Leaders: Have you considered getting feedback on your blind spots?

The most important thing I learned in Driver’s Education was ‘check your blind spot.’ Candidly, that bit of coaching has literally saved my life multiple times throughout the past several decades. Not checking a blind spot can mean destruction while driving a car, but I often wonder whether leaders take the time to check their blind spots. What you can’t see can hurt you and others in your team and in your organization, making you ineffective.

Here are a few blind spots I have observed in others and, in the interest of authenticity, some which others have brought to my attention over the years:

  1. “My way or the highway.” Power has a way of increasing this blind spot. Unidirectional leadership is an oxymoron. While leaders may think this approach demonstrates leadership, they may be losing the very followers they need to be successful.
  2. “I don’t need any feedback.” Those who do not want to hear about dangerous flaws that may be impeding their success are especially vulnerable to this blind spot. Think ‘ego on steroids’. As the old Proverb says: Pride comes before a fall.
  3. Feigned commitment. Leaders who nod their heads in approval during key meetings but only do so for appearances, are sending a message of disinterestedness which damages credibility.
  4. An unwillingness to get one’s hands dirty when the chips are down. Leaders who are ‘above all that‘ send a powerful message about their true concern for the challenges facing their team.
  5. Demonstrating an “Illusion of participation”. In change management and organizational development, we coach people to refrain from asking people for input unless they plan to use the input (Think employee surveys, for example). Leaders erode follower confidence in their sincerity when they act as if they’re interested in someone’s advice without including those thoughts in a solution. Loss of sincerity = loss of trust = loss of influence.
  6. Assuming others know what we know. Sometimes leaders think about a decision for days, weeks, even months … but when they decide to act, they forget that their team has not had the time to process what they’ve been thinking about, causing confusion and frustration in the ranks.

Blind spots can be remedied with candid leader openness to criticism that articulates the danger of the blind spot, the short-term impact of the blind spot, and the long-term, career damaging blind spots that can run someone off course forever. One or two trusted colleagues can provide insight to leadership blind-spots.

What are your leadership blind spots? Have you considered what they might be? Have you asked for true criticism of your style by a trusted colleague?

I welcome readers to weigh in on other blind spots they’ve observed. We can learn from the experiences of others and improve our leadership as we discover our own blind spots.