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How to Discover Your Leadership Blind Spots

What are your leadership blind spots? What are you doing to manage them?

Since blind spots are unproductive behaviors invisible to us but so evident to others, how do we ever discover them?

We all have behavioral blind spots that are automatic behaviors—things we do without thinking. None of us is immune, and it turns out that we’re terrible at self-diagnosing. It’s a whole lot easier to see problems in others than in ourselves (just think about most marriages).

If you Google “leadership blind spots,” you’ll find numerous lists of behaviors such as the tendency to avoid difficult conversations with direct reports, co-workers, and/or bosses. Plus there are countless examples of behaviors that annoy or frustrate others on our teams and keep us from being the best possible leaders.

The first step in managing blind spots is to ask others for their candid feedback. If we’re lucky, we’ll find people who will open our eyes to our Johari Window, a cognitive psychology technique for improving self-awareness that can help us better understand information known to others but not ourselves.

Getting candid feedback on shortcomings is about as appealing to most people as getting a root canal. One reason is that leadership feedback must be gained from people who see us regularly at work—not from our friends and family.

How many of us are emotionally healthy enough to ask co-workers to point out our blunders? Only those who really want to grow.

Fortunately, there is a process developed by Marshall Goldsmith, one of America’s preeminent executive coaches, and it’s the process we use at Nancy Rummel and Associates. In his wonderful book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, Goldsmith says, “We almost always suffer from the disconnect between the self we think we are and the self the rest of the world sees in us” . . . and the rest of the world usually has a more accurate perspective than we do.

In Chapter 6, “Feedback,” Goldsmith presents four commitments that leaders need to seek from people they ask for feedback:

Ask co-workers to . . .

  1. Let go of the past.
  2. Tell the truth (not what they think you want to hear).
  3. Be supportive and helpful (not cynical or negative).
  4. Commit to change something about themselves too (this makes the process richer).

The best leaders are self-aware of their own strengths and weaknesses. The best leaders know they have blind spots and they solicit regular feedback so they can improve. They consider it an opportunity to stop and listen to what others really see in them in order to be the excellent leader they want to be.

The process of seeking feedback really is easy. Changing our behavior as a result of feedback is the hard part. That’s where a good coach is needed.

LET’S TALK

To succeed as a leader, you need to get your people “all in.” Contact us today to explore how we can work together to grow your leadership talent. 614.319.3863 or info@nancyrummel.com.
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