9 Common Blind Spots That Plague Even The Best Leaders

The reason why I do what I do is because I want people to thrive in their lives.

And we, as humans, thrive when we contribute and are able to make an impact with our work.

This is why it feels so disheartening to know that so many people are disengaged in their jobs.

And leadership is the primary reason. 

According to Gallup (2017), just 15% said their leaders make them enthusiastic about the future, and another study found that just 23% say their leaders are effective.

Now, this is not the leaders’ fault. Leadership is hard and the vast majority of us are not born with the skills that make a great leader. We have to actually learn them.

But way too many leaders go about their job without ever having gotten any EFFECTIVE leadership training or coaching.

So, no wonder we have a discrepancy. We can’t excel in what we don’t know.

And that brings me to the topic of blind spots.

Blind spots are personal traits or aspects we demonstrate but aren’t aware of. 

When they appear as weaknesses they can limit the way we act react, behave or believe, and therefore limit our effectiveness.

Extensive research points to dozens of leadership blind spots. There are, however, 9 core blind spots that present most frequently.

These are:

  1. Going it alone (being afraid to ask for help)
  2. Being insensitive of your behavior on others (being unaware of how you show up)
  3. Having an “I know” attitude (valuing being right above everything else)
  4. Avoiding difficult conversations (conflict avoidance)
  5. Blaming others or circumstances (playing the victim; refusing responsibility)
  6. Treating commitments casually (not honoring the other person’s time, energy, resources)
  7. Conspiring against others (driven by a personal agenda)
  8. Not taking a stand (lack of commitment to a position)
  9. Tolerating “good enough” (low standards for performance)

What You Can Do 

Simply having an awareness of these blind spots may help all of us better see the gap between our actual behavior and our desired behavior, when it comes to getting the best from those who look to us for leadership.

Leaders who choose to actively work to identify blind spots and learn to overcome them on a personal level have considerable potential to impact the employee experience of those who report to them and interact with them.

When it comes to evaluating the impact of our own behavior, keep these tips in mind:

  • Assume that we are not objective when assessing our own capabilities. That means we need help. Get a coach who can help you get a 360-degree feedback assessment that can provide insight into the perceptions of those with whom you work.
  • Prepare yourself for feedback. It can be difficult to set egos aside, and many people benefit from learning adaptive techniques that help them approach and accept feedback constructively.
  • Appreciate the intent. While getting feedback that reveals blind spots can be uncomfortable, remember that it’s also difficult to give constructive feedback. Chances are, those providing it are trying to help.
  • Disrupt routines. We are blind to the things around us when we become set in our own ways and fall into routines regarding how we engage others, including reacting to issues, running meetings or coaching our employees.
  • Just do it. Given the importance of these leadership behaviors, there’s no downside to simply taking action to become even better at them.

We can never completely eliminate our blind spots; they are part of human nature. But through candid self-reflection combined with focused effort, we can safely steer ourselves toward becoming the exceptional leaders we want to be.

Plus, when leaders overcome their blind spots, employees are more likely to be very satisfied with their job than those whose leaders ignore and don’t acknowledge what they can’t see.

So, now, I’m curious. What’s the blind spot that resonates most with you? And what did you commit to do?

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