Even the best leaders make mistakes and have flaws. Unfortunately, many leaders are not fully aware of their flaws and how to fix them. In our lives and in our leadership we must be vulnerable and humble to see beyond our blind spots.
If we choose to act differently, we will go through life with limited visibility and not have the impact that we could have, that we truly want to have. Potentially, we can cause a lot of “accidents”, because we are not thoughtful or aware of the impact we have on others.
Author Robert Bruce Shaw, offers a definition in his book “Leadership Blindspots: How Successful Leaders Identify and Overcome the Weaknesses That Matter-
“A blindspot is an unrecognized weakness or threat that has the potential to undermine a leader’s success”
Shaw also adds that “Blindspots are tenacious and can reappear, causing problems over a leader’s entire career.”
Every leader has them, but the real question is how do we recognize the blindspots and what can we do about them?
Many organizations are using 360 degree feedback to find out how their leaders are performing, engaging and motivating their employees. That’s one way to help a leader become more aware of the followers perception of his or her leadership.
Many leaders have assumptions on whether their leadership has a positive impact on their company culture. They may need to get real-time feedback of their day to day behaviors which can potentially have a lasting impact on the team.
Another way is through one on one coaching. Many executives and leaders have coaches to help them become a better leader. In a successful coaching relationship, there is trust and honesty that enables feedback between people to discover potential for growth in developing leadership competencies that need the leader’s attention.
A blindspot can be a constructive way to take an honest look in the mirror and find out how one can improve as person and a leader. Many people think that blindspots are there forever and could not be corrected. Setbacks and challenges are only temporary and can be viewed as a leadership opportunity of a lifetime.
So what can we learn about blindspots and how can we overcome them?
Here are three suggestions to help leaders understand their blindspots and take advantage of these situations.
Be honest with yourself– Usually the first thing that happens when we are exposed to our blindspots, we are in denial. We become defensive and convince ourselves that the feedback was simply wrong. We may say, “well that’s just someone else opinion….” Or “well they are just looking out to get me…”
Honesty is not only the best policy with others but also with yourself. A blindspot is usually something that is re-recurring and has a large consensus about how you conduct yourself as a leader. The best thing to do is accept the feedback as an honest perception of how others feel about your leadership.
Reflect on the feedback in positive terms–Whatever the feedback is, there are two ways to handle the feedback. You either going to beat yourself up about it or you are going to empower yourself to think positively and correct the behavior necessary to become a better leader.
Take a moment to reflect and learn and then ask yourself empowering questions on how you can use the blindspot as an opportunity to change the behavior.
Take action and work on it– Remember that leadership is not a sprint but a marathon. Great leaders work and develop over time. Take small steps to slowly work toward the blindspots and continuously seek feedback on whether you are improving in the process.
Blindspots can hinder or help a potential leader. If they are used constructively and have a healthy perspective, can be very beneficial to grow and become more self-aware of areas of opportunities to better leadership.