When you hear the term "blind spot," you probably think of an area of limited visibility associated with your vehicle. Blind spots are also a real thing in human relations. Our personal or relational blind spots can cause us to act contrary to our intentions.
As leaders, we all have blind spots. In leadership, it is the gap between our intentions and actions that we can't see. I learned years ago that people don't respond to leaders based on our intentions; they respond based on our actions.
This gap (blind spot) between intention and actions can confuse our teams and, in some cases, damage our relationships and leadership effectiveness.
COMMON BLIND SPOTS
In my experience and work with leaders at all levels of business and life, I identified and experienced three common leadership blind spots: control, temperament, and influence.
Blind Spot No. 1 — Control
Most leaders don't want to be micromanagers, but we can sometimes become a bit obsessive in controlling people and outcomes. In order for people to grow and mature, they need experience. They need the freedom to make mistakes. Experience comes from being in the game. Wisdom comes from making and learning from mistakes. Leadership is a combination of skill and wisdom. The more control we exert, the less our people grow!
Solution: Give your team some clear guardrails and empower them to make their own choices. Coach them up and watch them grow.
Blind Spot No. 2 — Temperament
Your temperament or approach to your team is extremely important to your effectiveness. How are you showing up daily or in difficult situations? Is your attitude motivational, neutral, or demoralizing?
Solution: Be the leader that your team needs. Remember, you model the behavior for your team. Be real, and if you are having a bad day, admit it and interact with care.
Blind Spot No. 3 — Influence
I have operated and grown multimillion-dollar landscape companies in my career. When interacting with team members in the field or other branches, I had to learn the power of my position. In my mind, I was just one of the team. To team members, I was the owner or CEO who wielded a great deal of authority. I underestimated how much influence my words and/or actions had. A flippant comment or missed pat on the back could completely wreck the confidence and motivation of a dedicated team member. On the other hand, a simple smile, handshake, or compliment could change the course of a team member's career.
Solution: Don't underestimate the power and responsibility of your position. Be aware of your words and actions around your team. Be genuine and transparent. Carry your authority with humility.
Here are a couple of additional recommendations to help leaders identify and minimize blind spots.
Self-awareness: Any real change starts with a hard look at ourselves. Review your actions, interactions, and outcomes. Are you happy with the results? If not, what can you do to self-regulate in the future?
Ask for critical feedback: Identify a trusted advisor or peer that you can ask, "What is one blind spot you think I should be more aware of?"
Identify triggers: Leadership expert Marshall Goldsmith asserts we encounter people, events, or circumstances that possess the power to influence our actions and reactions every waking moment. When we master our triggers, we master our responses.
Hire a coach: Even the best athletes still need coaching. To stay at the top of their game, they recognize the value of having someone watch them play and identify athletic blind spots. Marissa Levin, founder and CEO of Successful Culture International, says blind spots can be the Achilles' heel of leadership. In comparison, we can intentionally strengthen weaknesses with practice, time, or desire. Blind spots are personal traits or factors we don't know about that may limit how we act, react, behave, or believe, and therefore limit our effectiveness.
Don't be naive. Identify and minimize your blind spots and continue to grow your leadership skills!