Photo Credit: Dan Rockwell, Leadership Freak
What do our faces and body language communicate? A friend and I were talking recently about how, as we’ve aged, our faces apparently have a resting pose of anger or disapproval. What?! When we were clued in on this, we both took action to keep a bit of a smile on, as a practice to avoid being misunderstood.
Not really a blind spot or is it? Blind spots are features of our personality (and physicality) that communicate something (usually negative) to others yet we are unaware of it ourselves. Blind spots are not necessarily intentional and if we were made aware of them we might be highly motivated to change or reckon with them.
Do we have blind spots in our posture and our behavior? In our decision-making or execution? Yes…and yes.
This isn’t a case for navel-gazing or over-thinking. We actually can’t discover our own blind spots without the help of others. However, sorting out our blind spots can, in fact, makes for healthier and happier relationships. As we realize how these not-easy-to-see patterns can have impact on work and life.
Following are four takes on blind spots by four business leaders. You seriously might want to jot down any of the blind spots that could be at work in you. Then check out these authors’ take on how to wrestle with these blind spots. Read the full articles by clicking on the links.
Thought leader, and CEO of her own management consulting firm, Davia Teman on 10 Leadership Blind Spots That Can Trigger Business Crises in 2017
Photo Credit: Davia Teman, Forbes
[Teman goes into these 10 surprising “don’ts” in her article here with excellent counsel on how to get started dealing with these blind spots. Her expertise in crisis management in companies and careers gives weight to the idea of steering clear of over-trust and leaning into tested verification. Fascinating.]
The Top 10 Leadership Blind Spots, and 5 Ways to Turn Them Into Strengths – Marissa Levin – Entrepreneur and CEO of Successful Culture
- Going it alone
- Being insensitive of your behavior on others
- Having an “I know” attitude
- Avoiding the difficult conversations
- Blaming others or circumstances
- Treating commitments casually
- Conspiring against others
- Withholding emotional commitment
- Not taking a stand
- Tolerating “good enough”
Levin’s consulting firm provides help with leadership and strategy development, as well as culture-building. I am amazed sometimes what kind of assistance we can get online for such things. You can read more on her 10 leadership blind spots and especially her 5 compelling prescriptions for them here.
- Over-estimating your strengths. You think you’re a great communicator. They think you’re boring.
- Over-estimating your approachability. You see yourself as welcoming and open. Teammates nickname you, “Pitbull.”
- Over-estimating your listening skills. You think you’re exploring options. In reality, you’re killing ideas, cutting people off, and talking too much.
- Over-confidence in your solutions. You call it problem solving. They call it defending your viewpoint and devaluing theirs.
- Over-confidence in your ability to understand how others think and feel. You call it insight. They call it out of touch.
Rockwell gives 10 gut-punch but empowering rapid-read prescriptions on how to take blind spots to breakthroughs. Read them here, if you’re ready to deal with those 5 blind spots or others.
7 Leadership Blind Spots That Drive Your Team Crazy – Carey Nieuwhof, Pastor, Leadership Consultant, and Podcaster
- Underestimating How Much Work It Takes
- Impulsive, Emotion-based Decision Making
- Being Indecisive
- Being Too Decisive and Not Valuing Input
- Creating an Unsustainable Pace
- Working Too Few Hours
- Expecting Others to Put in More Than You’re Willing to Put In
[Read Nieuwhof’s succinct and helpful commentary on each of these here.]
Months ago, I also wrote about blind spots (here). The following is an excerpt:
Life coach and writer Martha Beck prescribes a way to discover our blind spots.
“I know how valuable honest feedback can be, how much precious time it can save in my struggle to awaken. I still have to force myself to go looking for it, but when I do I almost always benefit.
Try this: For a week, ask for blind-spot feedback from one person a day, never asking the same person twice. Just say it: “Is there anything about me that I don’t seem to see but is obvious to you?” You’ll probably want to start with your nearest and dearest, but don’t stop there. Surprisingly, a group of relative strangers is often the best mirror you can find. I’ve worked with many groups of people who, just minutes after meeting, could offer one another powerful insights. Like the emperor in his new clothes, we often believe that our illusions are confirmed by the silence of people who are simply too polite to mention the obvious. Breaking the courtesy barrier by asking for the truth can change your life faster than anything else I’ve ever experienced.” – Martha BeckPhoto Credit: Vimeo
As hard as negative feedback is to stomach, it is a great help to avoid continued odd responses from people or the distancing that can happen when our blind spots get in the way of intimacy and care in relationships.
Now blind spots and “buttons” are different and yet connected. Buttons – those things people do that make us crazy – actually point to some of our blind spots in the way we respond to people pushing those buttons.
For instance, one of my buttons is when someone treats me like I’m stupid, or gullible. Like when a person tries to help me understand a decision he/she has made as if it’s a good thing when I know, and he/she knows, it’s not necessarily a good thing for me. This sort of thing makes me really burn (standing in the need of prayer here). OK…that’s a button, but my response can reveal a blind spot. My blind spot is that if I take a stand in some area then it means that I am “totally right” in that stand. Sort of the same as the button but from a different direction, you know what I’m saying? My blind spot response in that situation leaves little room for figuring out what the other person’s own “stand” truly meant. It’s helpful to know our blind spots and our buttons so we can work out ways of being more honest and honoring in our communications with colleagues…well, with everyone.
What do you think?