Leadership Blind Spots - Do you have any?

Leadership Blind Spots - Do you have any? by Dr. David Robinson and posted by Douglas Raine

Even the greatest leaders have blind spots.  Studies by the Hay Group and Development Dimension, Inc., showed that the senior leaders in any organization are more likely to overrate themselves and develop blind spots that can hinder their leadership effectiveness.  The studies showed that 89 percent of entry and mid-level leaders have at least one significant blind spot in their leadership skill set.

Can you see your leadership blind spots?  Most leaders don't want to create problems.  They just can't see the problems they create.  Without help, you will never see your blind spots--that's why they are called "blind."

Here are five blind spots common to most leaders:

1.  Not communicating or under communicating values, priorities, or strategic direction.  They are seldom as clear to the team as they are to the leader.  In a world of hyper-information, these can get lost quickly.  You can give too much information, but never too much communication.  Effective leaders in every meeting and one-on-one conversation, align the current topic with the team's priorities that advance the mission. 

2.  Not communicating or poorly communication expectations.  Without clearly defining individual and team success, you can expect disappointment.  Nothing sucks energy out of a team more than thinking they've met or exceeded the goals only to learn the leader was disappointed.  Unfulfilled expectations still brings life's greatest disappointments.

3.  Hoping poor performance will improve.  Hope is not a strategy.  Dealing with under-performers is challenging, time consuming and costly.  But hoping they will improve is more costly in the end.  Allow it to go on long enough and it begins to make your leadership ability suspect to your other team members.

4.  Buying into the myth of the "Irreplaceable Employee."  The warning signs of an "irreplaceable team member," who needs to go:  low team morale, high team turnover, gossip, lack of respect for leadership and poor communication.  Without significant intervention, they seldom gets better with age.

5.  Too much time, energy and resources invested in trying to persuade and coach radical change.  Most people's behavior is based on their personal worldview and what makes sense to them.  If their personal value system doesn't blend and support your organization's value system, there is only so much you can do to create substantial and sustainable behavioral change .

Here are three helpful questions to ask your team:

1.  What am I doing that's not helping us accomplish our mission?  Ask it often until a culture is developed that allows people to be comfortable in answering with honesty.  It signals to the team, you don't think your leadership is infallible.

2.  How can I help you feel comfortable in telling me what you see and what I need to hear--not what you think I want to hear.  

3.  How can I make it better?  Knowing you have a blind spot is not enough.  You must use your leadership influence to make it right.  When your team knows you really care about finding the best solution, even if it's not your first choice, they will go beyond the call of duty in helping you find one.

Blind spots are simply opportunities to improve your leadership.  Do you want to find and fix them or continue to stumble into the future, followed by a de-energized team?