It’s the tricky thing about blind spots: Everybody has them, but often we don’t even know they exist until they cause a problem.
All of us have blind spots, and most of us at some point have made a bad decision because of them. But when a leader has a blind spot, the repercussions spread to include the entire organization—and sometimes even its stakeholders and customers.
In essence, a blind spot is not knowing what you don’t see. Blind spots can take many forms, from refusing to accommodate new workplace realities or technologies to, at their worst, racial and ethnic prejudice. The most dangerous blind spots are the ones we aren’t even aware of.
Many leaders also have internalized blind spots, in which the view of who you are doesn’t align with what others experience from you. Good leaders are always working to improve their self-awareness, but unfortunately many are better at managing strategy than at looking inward.
Here are four of the most common internalized blind spots to check yourself against.
1. Inflated ego. The greatest enemy of any leader—or anyone, for that matter—is thinking they can never make a mistake, that they know better than anyone else, that their title and achievements set them apart. Leaders with inflated egos make everything they do about themselves, and at the extreme they surround themselves with synchopants who agree with every misperception and validate their ego every day. An overgrown ego makes it impossible to maintain the kind of relationships that are at the core of leadership. It eventually leads to its own downfall, sometimes taking the entire organization with it.
2. Lack of character. Leadership cannot exist in the absence of character. Leaders need to constantly check and, if needed, realign themselves with the values and beliefs that form the foundation of who they are. Issues of character affect your choices and actions, leading to unethical or unsustainable decisions, and a refusal to own or repair mistakes.
3. Scarcity of confidence. When leaders aren’t able to perceive their own value and abilities, it keeps them and their organizations from achieving all that they’re capable of. The blind spot of self-doubt persuades leaders to avoid bold decisions and focus on less important issues or even to spend their time chasing distractions. The side effects are difficult and damaging.
4. Low accountability. Leaders must be perceived as reliable and steady, and any unwillingness to be accountable costs their leadership credibility. The root of the word credibility is credere, which means “believe” in Latin. Put plainly, credibility is the feeling of trust and loyalty that leaders inspire in others, and without that credibility there can be no leadership.
LEAD FROM WITHIN: Your blind spots may be entirely different—the important thing is to watch for them with vigilance and keep your thinking as flexible and open as possible.
N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
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Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.