Many leaders go through times when they’re working hard and doing all the right things, but their traction and effectiveness isn’t hitting the mark.
What’s missing or getting in the way? Probably a blind spot. We all have them – areas that are impacting our effectiveness in some way that we’re unaware of.
While Sam thought he was direct – others thought he was blunt and abrupt. While Emma considered herself confident and assertive – her peers perceived her as bossy. Often there are subtleties and ‘fine lines’ in our behaviour and tone that create a (small or large) disconnect between our intention and impact. Usually we don’t see the gap until there are negative consequences.
It’s far easier to judge someone else for their blind spots or development needs, than it is to spot them within ourselves.
A recent HBR article stated only 10-15% of people are self-aware¹. Being self-aware means knowing and understanding you: your strengths, vulnerabilities, blind spots, motivations – the things that make you tick. The HBR article talks also about external self-awareness – how you are perceived by others on these same measures.
To address your blind spots, employ these three steps:
1. Be willing to see yourself accurately
You need to know yourself, to see yourself accurately, and to have no ego in the feedback you give to yourself. Doing this requires an attitude that is open, curious and willing to learn. Be willing to challenge what you believe about yourself and your comfort zone in relationships.
2. Seek feedback
Getting useful feedback from your boss, peers and team goes beyond how well you met the goals or the deadlines: it uncovers how your colleagues feel about working with you, how well you communicate and collaborate with them, and how you handle stress and adversity. Feedback is someone else’s perception – their experience of you – which is their truth. It’s a gift if you see it that way. Remember, blind spots can be positive too and reveal a strength you didn’t know you had.
3. Focus on targeted improvement
Often a few behavioural tweaks will significantly improve your results. Know what progress you want to make, know your benchmarks, and give yourself plenty of encouragement along the way. Take time to self-reflect and continue to seek feedback to validate your progress.
Bringing it all together
Being vulnerable enough to see yourself accurately, through the eyes of others, takes courage.
Adjusting your leadership style to become more behaviourally flexible can accelerate your leadership effectiveness. We all have progress to make. Closing the gap between your intentions and impact is a great place to start. Lastly, don’t take yourself too seriously – you’re not perfect and neither is anyone else.
What one leadership blind spot are you going to work on? I’d love to know.