I have a confession to make… things didn’t go quite so perfectly in 2018 despite a significant investment in planning and execution.
But then, no one is perfect, right?
Reflecting on the past year (a January habit of mine) I found blind spots I should have noticed before making a couple of big decisions and in one case, before not making a decision. Ah, hindsight is a beautiful thing!
By nature, leaders are always supposed to have the answers, so even admitting you have blind spots can feel unsettling.
If you’re in a leadership role like me, you need to have confidence in your abilities, and enough wisdom to know that you’re not going to know or ‘see’ everything. But when a blind spot hinders you from seeing the truth or makes you blind to important issues, it needs to be addressed.
Here are five common leadership weaknesses that can hurt you and your business, and how to manage them:
- VALUING BEING RIGHT OVER BEING EFFECTIVE
Finding out that you made the wrong decision or hold a viewpoint that is incorrect can be embarrassing and even damaging to business. Like me you’ve no doubt encountered people who, irrationally, hold fast to being right and don’t even consider information that could make them better informed and more effective. Such a blind spot can not only lead to bad decision-making, it also means that the helpful opinions of other people aren’t valued. Leaders who are defensive when challenged can actually shut down the contribution and innovation of others.
The remedy? More humility and curiosity. Less believing that you have to be right or that you have a monopoly on the truth.
- OVER-ESTIMATING ABILITY
People in leadership positions may rise to their positions through commercial or operational roles and then find they’re responsible for thinking about markets, competition, and driving growth. The shift in thinking from solving operational challenges to thinking about the big-picture direction is big and – sadly – many leaders, including entrepreneurs, overestimate how well they managed it.
The remedy? Surround yourself with able people and learn to delegate. Engage a business coach to keep your head up where it needs to be.
- COMMUNICATING INEFFECTIVELY
If you’ve done any professional development in the area of soft skills you’d be very aware of the Johari Window model. It’s a psychological tool created way back in 1955 and one of the few with an emphasis on behaviour, empathy, co-operation, inter-group development and interpersonal development. It’s a great model because of its simplicity and also because it can be applied in a variety of situations and environments. But I digress…
In my humble opinion the single biggest challenge is communication, its also the single biggest lever for influence and yet (as the Johari Window explains) we all have blind spots.
The remedy? Seek feedback, ask questions and be curious, always!
- FAVOURING TEAM MEMBERS
Sometimes, leaders have blind spots when it comes to employees, co-workers, or team members. These people may not be performing as expected or may not have the skills necessary to do the job and our blind spots can (actively or unconsciously) prevent us from seeing the problem – especially if we want the individual to succeed.
In covering for them, we send a message to the rest of the team that the individual is receiving special accommodations. At the same time, it sends unclear messages to the individual. Neither of these optimises the team or the working environment.
The remedy? More objectivity and evidence reporting to illuminate the blind spot.
- LOSING TRACK OF WHAT’S HAPPENING
Failure to stay in touch with the realities around you and your business can lead to several blind spots. When you think you know more than you do without confirmation or make assumptions about what’s happening instead of getting the facts, you risk being blindsided.
The remedy? Get an outside view of those areas you have a tendency to overlook. Join a leadership or industry network. Analyse data from your business systems, constantly!