One of the pitfalls of success is that it can get to our heads. We develop the false notion that we are infallible and we become blinded to some of our faults. Some of these leadership blindspots, if unaddressed, can develop into fatal leadership behaviours that will limit your career progression.
Leadership blindspots are unrecognised weaknesses that we cannot see ourselves, or sometimes, they are faults that we choose not to acknowledge despite repeated feedback. The challenge is that blindspots, by definition, are things that we’re not even aware of. So we need to deliberately seek them out.
Every one of us has blindspots. The problem is that as we get more successful, we allow ego to get in our way and get lulled into thinking that we’re always right. The higher you climb, the harder you fall. That phrase is not accidental as we’ve seen many leaders fall from grace across all fields – business, political and in the world of professional sports.
Henry Ford’s role in building the automobile industry of today is well known. What’s lesser known is how the Ford Motor Company came almost to the brink of disaster because of his blindspots. Henry Ford’s blindspots were the changing consumer landscape, and his absolute refusal to listen to his team’s feedback. He was insistent that his Model T was everything that consumers desired. In the meantime, General Motors was rapidly eating away market share by offering consumers a car that was both affordable and stylish.
Leaders of courage are those who are willing to seek out and face their vulnerabilities. By sharpening our self awareness, we can uncover blindspots that are hindering our effectiveness. Examining the root drivers of recurring mistakes in your leadership will offer up some initial clues.
However, as blindspots are hard to see for yourself, nothing is more valuable than feedback from others. I suggest paying closer attention to feedback that seems contrary to how you view yourself as a leader, and the impact of your behaviour on others.
Ask your trusted confidantes what they see as your blind spots. Could it be that you avoid conflicts at all costs? Or do you value being right over being effective? No doubt it’ll be a tough, and perhaps even awkward conversation, but one that you’ll ultimately be grateful for.