Ever read something and cringe? The Business Week article titled Discover Your Leadership Blind Spots struck a nerve because some of the examples sounded awfully familiar. While we’d like to think that folks at Humanergy are way too enlightened to have blind spots, it simply isn’t true.

Great leaders are fallible human beings who may not be entirely self-aware. In fact, the higher up the leadership ladder you climb, the harder it is to get the direct, targeted feedback you need to avoid blind spots.

You may be thinking, “I’ve made it this far and am pretty successful. Why do I need to delve into these blind spots anyway?” Leadership and self-deception: Getting out of the box, a phenomenal book, outlines the compelling “why.” The authors point out that if you don’t explore the ways that you currently think and act, you risk:

  • Never uncovering the real reasons why problems occur
  • Never finding the right solutions to the issues you face
  • Never achieving the results you want
  • Placing blame elsewhere (other people, the situation, a bad company, etc.) without grounds to do so

How do you uncover your blind spots and eradicate them?

Realize it’s you that needs to change. You aren’t going to expose your blind spots by focusing on what others need to do differently. Don’t let others’ shortcomings be a distraction.

Seek open, complete feedback. We all need regular doses of in-your-face feedback. Seek a reality check from people whose opinion you value, but be cautious about choosing people simply because they’ll affirm you. Look for at least one “devil’s advocate” – someone you respect, but not one of your biggest fans.

Examine how you see yourself and others. We spend most of our time on auto pilot, not thinking about the assumptions and perceptions behind our behaviors. Think about a recent situation that did not go well. How did you perceive yourself in the situation? What beliefs and assumptions did you have about the other people involved? Read Leadership and self-deception to help you figure out how your unconscious judgments impact your behavior.

Make a plan and enlist others to hold you accountable. Once you know what needs to change, don’t take on the whole enchilada at once. Isolate one or two behaviors to focus on. Be specific and realistic in your action plan. Get others involved. Tell them what you’re working on, how they can support you and how they can help hold you accountable.

Leadership requires self-awareness and a commitment to continuous improvement. Thankfully, perfection isn’t a prerequisite, but trying to do better certainly is.

Have a question or want some input from Humanergy about this topic? Contact us and we’ll get right back to you!