We all have blind spots as leaders. Often, these vulnerabilities or threats go unnoticed. It can, however, adversely affect our success.
Despite the fact that leaders cannot eliminate all blind spots, some steps can be taken to overcome them. In addition to improving decision-making, building stronger relationships, and achieving their goals, leaders can mitigate their blind spots.
What Are Leadership Blindspots?
Blindspots are weaknesses or threats that go unrecognized by leaders, hindering their success. Some causes include:
- Personality. There are a number of ways in which our personality can impact our blind spots. Introverts, for example, may be less aware of how their body language is perceived. On the other hand, people who are naturally competitive may overlook other people’s contributions more readily.
- Experiences. Our experiences can also shape blind spots. For instance, a leader may be less likely to seek feedback in the future if they had a bad experience with it in the past. Or, women in the workplace may face greater challenges if a leader has always worked in a male-dominated environment.
- Biases. We can also be blinded by our biases. When we are similar to someone, we may trust them more readily or overlook the ideas of people who don’t agree with us.
The Top 12 Leadership Blindspots
The following are some of the most common leadership blindspots:
1. Going it alone.
People with this tendency tend to do everything themselves rather than seek assistance. This could lead to burnout, poor decisions, and the loss of team trust.
In addition, this leads to increased conflict, low morale, stifled creativity, and a lack of productivity.
2. Possessing an “I know” attitude.
Basically — this is believing that you always know what’s best. Worse yet, you are convinced you don’t need to listen to others’ opinions.
This can cause arrogance, poor decision-making, and ineffective innovation.
3. Overestimating strategic ability.
According to Robert Bruce Shaw, CEO of Princeton Management Consulting Group in Princeton, New Jersey, and author of Leadership Blind Spots: How Successful Leaders Identify and Overcome the Weaknesses That Matter, people in leadership positions often believe that they are more strategic than they actually are. Oftentimes, they gain their positions in commercial or operational roles before becoming responsible for markets, competition, and growth.
A large shift in thinking from solving operational challenges to thinking about the company’s big-picture direction is a considerable one that many leaders underestimate. Their focus shifts from operational problem-solving to providing strategic leadership, and they lose sight of the big picture.
4. Keeping difficult conversations to a minimum.
When it comes to difficult conversations, do you shy away from them? For example, providing negative feedback or resolving conflict.
This may seem innocent enough. In the long run, this can result in problems festering and a lack of trust and respect from your team.
5. Poor delegation.
Growth depends on delegation. However, setting up an effective delegation process can be challenging. Many leaders micromanage those with the least on their plate and hand off tasks to those with the least to do.
When delegating, pinpoint the right person for the task. Additionally, give them clear instructions and be patient. Don’t forget, that building the capacity of your team takes time and effort.
6. Excessive control.
Trying to micromanage your team and control all aspects of their work is a sign of micromanagement. Sometimes this is a necessary evil. But, generally speaking, this can result from a lack of creativity, resentment, and low morale.
7. Making snap judgments.
Without getting to know someone first, we tend to make snap judgments. You could end up with misunderstandings, conflicts, and a lack of diversity on your team as a result.
8. Fear of taking risks.
Do you play it too safe by avoiding taking risks? While sometimes this is the right decision, being too cautious can lead to stagnation and a lack of innovation.
9. Being unprepared for meetings and arriving late.
This is probably the productivity point that really grinds my gears.
Leaders who arrive late and unprepared for meetings demonstrate a lack of respect for others’ time and set a terrible example for others to follow. Furthermore, the rest of the team must decide whether to wait for or proceed without them, confusing and losing productivity.
How can you avoid this problem? Between meetings, incorporate “buffer time.”
By reviewing upcoming meetings and answering the following questions daily, you will avoid showing up unprepared for meetings:
- “What is the purpose of this meeting?”
- “What do I hope to gain from this meeting?”
In the event that your schedule as an executive doesn’t allow for these changes, you should reconsider which meetings are a necessity and which can be delegated to others or skipped.
10. Focusing too much on the present.
There’s nothing wrong with staying in the present tense. However, if you only focus on the team’s immediate needs, you could neglect long-term objectives. In the long run, this can lead to short-sighted decisions and a lack of sustainability.
11. Being too self-centered.
Putting your own needs and wants ahead of the team’s is called selfishness. As a result, a toxic work environment can develop due to a lack of trust and respect.
12. Not being willing to learn and grow.
Individuals might think they know everything and don’t need to learn from others. The result can be stagnation and a lack of innovation.
A few examples of leadership blindspots from Forbes are as follows:
- Fundamental attribution error. In explaining the behavior of others, external factors (such as luck or circumstances) tend to be overestimated, and internal factors (like personality or ability) are underestimated.
- Leadership’s shadow. Narcissism, arrogance, and aggression are dark aspects of leadership.
- The false consensus effect. We tend to think that our own opinions and beliefs are more widespread than they are.
How to Overcome Leadership Blindspots
Awareness is the first step to overcoming leadership blindspots. To do this, you can reflect on your own behavior, ask for feedback from others, and take personality tests.
The sooner you become aware of your blind spots, the easier it will be to mitigate them. Here are a few specific strategies to overcome leadership blindspots:
Ask for feedback.
You should seek feedback from your colleagues, subordinates, and customers about your leadership style. By doing this, you can identify blind spots you might be unaware of.
Get coaching or mentoring.
By working with a coach or mentor, you can develop self-awareness and overcome your blind spots. Furthermore, they can provide strategies and tools for improving your leadership capabilities.
Read books and articles on leadership.
Several books and articles are available that can help you gain a better understanding of leadership blind spots. Your own blind spots can be made more apparent when you read about these topics.
Take personality tests or assessments.
You can identify your strengths and weaknesses by taking personality tests and assessments. To overcome your blind spots, having this information at hand can be helpful.
A self-aware person can understand his or her own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. You can become more aware of your blind spots by practicing self-awareness.
Be open to feedback.
Even if the feedback is negative, be open to it. You can improve your leadership skills by identifying your blind spots through feedback.
Each day, take some time to think about what you have done and what you have decided. As a result, you will become more aware of your own biases and blind spots.
Be willing to change.
To overcome your blind spots, you have to be willing to change your behavior. As a leader, you need to master this skill to become more effective.
It takes time and effort to overcome leadership blindspots. It is still possible, however, to make improvements and become a more effective leader by following these tips.
What is a leadership blind spot?
Blindspots in leadership are personality traits, beliefs, or behaviors that prevent a leader from being effective. Although some people know this, it is commonly unknown to leaders.
How can I identify my leadership blindspots?
To identify your leadership blindspots, you can do the following:
- Ask for feedback from trusted colleagues. Ask your colleagues for honest feedback on your strengths and weaknesses as a leader.
- Take a leadership assessment. You can identify your blind spots with several leadership assessments, such as Velocity Leadership CheckPoint or Gallups Strength Finder.
- Reflect on your experiences. Remember when you or your team have made mistakes or underperformed. Is there anything you could have done differently?
- Be open to feedback. Listen to feedback from others, regardless of how difficult it may be.
What are the benefits of overcoming leadership blindspots?
The benefits of overcoming leadership blindspots are numerous. Among them are:
- Improved decision-making. Knowing your blind spots allows you to make more informed decisions.
- Stronger relationships. It is easier to build trust and rapport when you are more self-aware.
- Increased productivity. By eliminating your blindspots, you can achieve your goals more efficiently.
- Improved morale. Leaders who demonstrate fairness and understanding improve morale and confidence when they lead by example.
- Greater success. A successful leader knows their blind spots and overcomes them.
How can I overcome my leadership blindspots?
The following steps can help you overcome your leadership blindspots:
- Becoming more aware of your own biases. We all have biases, but recognizing them allows us to avoid letting them cloud our judgment.
- Seeking feedback from others. To gain a balanced viewpoint, continue to seek feedback from others.
- Challenging your assumptions. You should take a step back and challenge your assumptions before deciding. Do you rely on facts or your own biases when making a decision?
- Being open to feedback. Despite not wanting to hear it, be open to feedback from others.
- Being willing to change. Leaders can overcome their blindspots and become more effective if they are willing and eager to change.
Image Credit: Noelle Otto; Pexels; Thank you!