Leadership Blindspots

Discover the potential weaknesses that can undermine any leader.

Being a leader does not make you less of a human with a tendency to make lots of mistakes along the process. Therefore, it is crucial to know your weaknesses. The reason behind this is the goal to overcome whatever shortcomings that can affect your progress.

But be mindful of the particular weaknesses your wrestle with. The weaknesses that we are already aware of are not the ones that can hold back our success—unless they become a habit hard to break. Those known faults are a tad easier to battle with because they are already out in the open. However, the unidentified weaknesses are the kinds that can be dangerous for our success. They can be referred to as blind spots.

Blind spots are like tiny but impacting stumbling blocks set to trip you over if your eyes are focused elsewhere—the most common mistake in the history of walking and much more in business. The best thing to do is to make sure you identify them before they hit you right between your eyes.

Through this article, discover how you can:

  • Stop crisis from impacting the success of your group or organization
  • Be an Undercover Boss

Blind spots are unrecognized weaknesses or threats that can undermine your success.

Ever heard of the sentence, 'Pride comes before a fall'? It is very common and not a myth at all. Just when things get sure and confident, conflict takes place. A full preparation executed, you have a good feeling that things will go exactly the way you planned, and you are the most confident leader in the face of the planet. Then, poof!

It happens to best of the leaders. Even Steve Jobs got challenged by blind spots. His unique style of having visions and executing leadership has harbored negative feelings from his colleagues, specifically with the Apple CEO, John Sculley. Because of this blind spot act of indifference, Jobs was sent home packing by the board.

Another example is Ron Johnson's mistake of ditching Target and Apple to work as the new CEO for JCPenney. He kicked off his new career with an abuse of power given to him that resulted in $1 Billion of loss during his first year of management.

These two examples go to show that blind spots when not treated early on can cause severe damage to the health of your leadership. Never take for granted what an overdue blind spot can do.

Audit your mistakes and look for recurring weaknesses.

First things first, determine what your blind spots and where they originate. You cannot combat with something you do not understand.

Be sensitive to your mistakes. These are what typically transform simple issues to blind spots when you refuse to fix things in order right away.

When you have a repetitive mistake that continually affects your work now and then, it is imperative to address once and for all. History repeats itself. Thus, it will keep on bugging your leadership if you keep letting if off the hook.

For example, you can be an organized boss; however, you tend to look past your staff's issues. You could be a very lenient leader, which results in compromising the quality of your team's performance more often than not. These mistakes create blind spots that can be noticed by others and worse, used by your rivals to bring your legacy down.

Awareness does not put an end to blind spots nor being defensive about them. You can overcome such roadblock by improving your shortcomings. That is just about it. No shortcuts, no magic. Be willing to change, and you are halfway to conquering your weaknesses.

Take Xerox's R&D group PARC for instance. They had a great shot at computer industry before they concentrated on short-term profits and compromised the commitments made early on until their competitors took over.

Feedback is key to avoiding blind spots, so make sure you ask for it.

Let's admit it; not all criticisms are welcome. Actually, for most people, criticisms are hard to swallow. We often take them personally, and it is often hard to separate emotions from work.

If a person close to your heart comes up to you and tell you about your weaknesses, it is normal to feel a bit off about it, but accepting that the people you regularly hang out with tend to notice these things that you do to which you turn a blind eye. The two American Psychologists Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham have developed the Johari Window. This window shows the significant dissimilarity between self-perception and how others view you.

Other people have the advantage of the eagle's eye point of view. They see what is beyond your ego and pride that can cloud logic. Employees often can spot what the leaders lack than themselves.

Hewlett-Packard's CEO, Meg Whitman had experience of giving her boss honest feedback when she told him that his team has no confidence or ownership of their work because of the way her boss pushed the idea to them. Her boss had no idea. After he thanked her, he improved his style of leadership.

Honest feedback does not always knock on our doors voluntarily. Often, we have to ask for legitimate criticism. It is never a weakness to do or a sign of self-doubt.

If you wish to get unbiased feedback, third-party consultations can supply honest feedback as well.

Blind spots aren’t equally bad, and some might not be that bad at all.

Now, let us not concentrate too much on giving blind spots a lousy name as there are instances when they can be beneficial in transforming our way of leadership and the other times, would not affect our success in any way.

If you are a head chef and your blind spot is creating marketing strategies, then it does not directly affect your job performance. Your restaurant company probably has a marketing strategist who can work it out for you and your job is to lead a team of great cooks to keep the hungry mouths coming your way. We must focus on the faults that reside in essential areas that govern our jobs.

W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc.'s Bill Gore's analogy makes much sense when it comes to knowing what blind spot you should address. According to his analogy, the captain of a ship that is engaged in a naval battle should focus on shots fired towards the areas of the boat that can sink it down rather than the bullets that struck above the waterline.

It is the leader's job to determine which blind spot destruct your business and your leadership. Not all can be worth the stress, be wise to identify which will be hurt your performance.

The youngest self-made female billionaire in history and Spank's founder, Sara Blakely, started with just $5,000 to kick off her business. She had a blind spot of being overly tenacious and not minding the risks. Years later, she became a self-made billionaire.

There’s no better way to learn about your own business than by using your own two eyes.

When people think of the high class political leaders, the norm when it comes to perception is thinking they are oblivious to the concerns and suffering of the people they govern.

This kind of scenario can happen even outside of politics. Leaders tend to lose touch with their people when they opt to walk on the greedy side of the road or when the title demand is too high that the leader lose time and interest to know how the company actually holds up as a unit. It often becomes technical.

This kind of failure on the leader’s end can be avoided if time is well-invested to his team’s well-being that affects their business performance. Get involved and be proactive on how to keep them motivated and feel like the vital unit of the team that they truly are. After all, no one gets to be at the top if no one works below.

That is exactly how the television show, Undercover Boss came up with the idea of having company leaders to work on low-level positions to better grasp the areas where mentality and motivation fail. The goal is to understand firsthand what goes on below the rung of the ladder and not rely on numbered performance and secondhand opinions.

True leaders know that secondhand opinions are sometimes as good as partial hearsays and hollow gossips. Schlumberger’s CEO, Andrew Gould, understands this fully well, which is why he directly aims to the person responsible for the answers he needed instead of his leadership team. That is a good way to ensure fair communication and promoting ownership.

Look for contradictory data and subtle warning signs.

Never be biased towards your own opinion if your goal is to lead—this is an essential guide to successful headship. Do not turn a blind eye on suggestions that do not melodiously go well with what you have in mind, because at the end of the day, leaders commit mistakes, too. Just because it is your idea does not mean it is always the best there is.

Having great support team can be beneficial if you are open to suggestions and other point of views that can be laid out on the business table. Strive hard to be objective and not biased when collecting pertinent data. And pride is never a good element in this formula.

Say, like most businesses, yours measure success and performance through budget. By doing so, you do not grasp a hold of the relevant information about your competitions but your own. A company that is systematically gathering proceeds could possibly still be outranked by its competitors in market shares or gains. The study alone can be misleading.

If you are to collect more significant information about your competition, it is of the essence to broaden your sources of data and add more standpoints to angles. This practice can boost your indulgence in what is not explicitly stated regarding business performances. You will be an expert in indentifying business red flags and avert arising blind spots.

Surround yourself with a group of trusted advisers and promote a culture of productive debates.

A great team makes the dream work. It has been proven time and again that a team with outstanding cooperation and united goals can outperform any single unit.

As a leader, one of your many fulfilling tasks is to make sure that you provide your team with gratifying working conditions that cultivates their skills and amplifies their performance. Think long-term when it comes to choosing the people to work with. Keep in mind that these people will have the access to your strength and weaknesses. They are the ones you will entrust with the aptitude to point out your blind spots. Therefore, make sure to pluck the great ones with actionable criticism from your vast selection.

Never deviate yourself from uncomfortable situations that can refine your leadership skills. Healthy debates, constructive criticism, and productive explorations through viewpoints apart from yours are great cases in point of what you should never swerve from.

Take it from Steve Jobs who worked for Pixar after leaving Apple in 1985. He had the same leadership team consisting of Ed Catmull and John Lasseter who continued to dare his control when warning signs of blind spots afloat despite knowing how Jobs pick up other standpoints. And as a result to their healthy defiance, he became a better leader than before.

Keep in mind that your team should be govern by diversity, healthy criticism, and within the context of respect. Giving them the freedom to pinpoint your weaknesses should not promote disrespect to your title. However, your team should never experience retaliation scare for speaking up about your blind spot as a leader. Instead, they should view it as a privilege generously gifted in full respect and openness. This showcases your maturity and personal dedication to your team’s success without losing authority.

Final Summary

A good leader knows when support is warranted. But a great one knows when criticism is constructive and advantageous. Do not make hindrance out of your blind spots and instead, use them as your stepping stones to becoming the next great leader that the business world has ever seen.