Every Leader Has Blind Spots - Do You Know Yours?
Everyone has blind spots in their lives. These are areas that we aren't even aware of that continually hold us back. When it comes to blind spots, it's easy to get confused or blame others. Why? Because we don't know our blind spots are there, and rarely do we realize it's us that is making a problem and not some outside source. As a leader, blind spots can have a number of negative consequences such as distrust among your team members and an inability to fix certain issues. Ultimately, blind spots left uncovered can compromise your success. So how do you even begin to recognize a blind spot if you have no awareness of what you aren't seeing? Here are a few tips.
Be More Mindful
Yes, I know that 'mindfulness' is a big buzz word lately and, in many ways, it's lost a lot of its meaning. At the core, though, mindfulness just means paying more conscious attention to what you think, feel, say, and do. Take some time to really pay attention and analyze how some of your actions are affecting results and others in your office. When you're stressed out and snap during a team meeting, take a moment to look around the room at the faces of your colleagues. Do they seem more stressed? Do they stop communicating? Are they just used to it? By simply paying more attention to how you interact with others, you can sometimes identity a blind spot that has been escaping your attention.
Ask Those You Trust
Hopefully you have a least a couple of people in your life that you can totally trust to give you honest feedback. A spouse, good friend, or colleague that you trust can be a powerful resource when it comes to identifying blind spots. Ask them to sit down with you and have a blunt conversation about some areas where you could improve. You may be surprised by what you hear! One caution here: you may not always like what you hear so be prepared for some potentially hard truths. Try to resist the urge to justify, debate or otherwise judge the validity of the feedback in that moment. Just thank the person for their willingness to help you grow, and then go away and think about what you've heard and what, if anything, you want to do with the information.
Look for Patterns
If you start going through your past interactions with employees, colleagues, and others in your professional life, you'll probably be able to start identifying patterns. Maybe every time you focus on your phone in a team meeting, you get a lot less feedback from your employees. Or perhaps when you're rushed in the morning, your entire days goes off the rails because your lack of patience and irritability affects all those in the office. Once you notice pattern, you'll probably start seeing it repeated in other areas of your life. This can be an eye-opening (and often emotional) experience and is a powerful step in the right direction.
Surround Yourself with Honest People and Listen to Them
Too many leaders surround themselves with 'yes-men' and others who just tell them what they want to hear. Guess what? This doesn't help you grow as a leader and it certainly doesn't do you any favors when it comes to identifying blind spots. It's important to have honest people on your team and to create a culture where they aren't afraid to speak the truth. When you've developed this type of environment, you'll have access to constant feedback and it becomes much more difficult for those blind spots to remain!
Do you have blind spots as a leader? I honestly have never met a leader who doesn't have at least a few (myself included). When you start paying attention to what you do, say, and feel affects others and yourself, you can start identifying where you have opportunities for growth and you can begin the process of improving.
Trish Cody is an Executive Awareness Coach and Speaker who focuses on optimizing results for business leaders. With over 20 years of experience as a strategic consultant for some of the world's top Fortune 500 companies, Trish Cody has coached and consulted with senior level teams in planning, designing, launching, and measuring the return for major initiatives. As a Certified Professional Coach and Energy Leadership Practitioner, Trish works with senior level leaders and business owners to raise their levels of self-awareness and create more trust, loyalty and success in their businesses and teams. Contact Trish at firstname.lastname@example.org.