I have blind spots. You have blind spots. It’s part of our nature because we learn from our distinct experiences, are constantly shaped over the course of our lives, adopt or discard beliefs, and experience both joy and pain. The practice of leadership benefits from tools and methodologies for sure, but it is a distinctly human endeavor and so we can’t simply check that humanity at the door.
As a result, we have our tendencies, our biases, our strong reflexive leanings when it comes to decision making, dealing with (or avoiding) conflict, and assessing the environment around us. Collectively, these facets of our personality can unhelpfully produce blind spots or tendencies to miss or underestimate critical environmental cues. Frequently, these blind spots can cause us to make bad hires or to give up too soon on hires we considered bad but which, in reality, were not. Blind spots can cause us to see right past an organizational threat or to miss the distinct sound of opportunity knocking.
The key to contending with these blind spots is to acknowledge that we have them, ask for feedback from trusted advisors, and pressure test decisions with others. Cars have blind spots (of course, this is where the metaphor comes from) and so as drivers, we can proceed along as though they don’t exist. Or we can adjust accordingly by relying on mirrors, cameras, and blind spot monitoring tech to ensure safety.
Leaders need to be self reflective and figure out their tendencies, which could include conflict avoidance, rash decision-making, fear of failure, inability to communicate effectively, having a short fuse when it comes to performance management, procrastination, and others. Then, having acknowledged these, the successful leader will seek to build in deliberate and targeted measures to counter them. These are the management equivalent of mirrors and safety tech.
Examples include professional coaches, a trusted advisory group, mentors, and periodic requests for feedback from trusted colleagues.
Blind spots are only dangerous when ignored.
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