Many leaders go through times when they’re working hard and doing all the right things – but they’re somehow not producing at the right level or having the level of influence they need. Have you ever had that feeling – when your traction and effectiveness just isn’t hitting the mark?
If so, the problem could be your leadership blind spots. That is, the gap between your intentions and impact. You want to come across to others in the way you intend, but something’s getting in the way.
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. And usually we don’t see the gap until there are negative repercussions.
Truth is, it’s far easier to judge someone else for their blind spots or development needs, than it is to spot them within ourselves.
Becoming self-aware means having a greater understanding of our strengths and weaknesses and what’s driving our decision making, patterns of behaviour and tone of voice. Sometimes our blind spots can be created by over using our strengths. Like when we’re promoted, and we believe the same strengths that created our success in the past will continue to create success in our new role. This belief is a trap. A new game plan is required.
We all have blind spots. We all have progress to make. To uncover and 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. Your learning and development starts with you and your commitment to become the leader your team needs and deserves.
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 that blind spots can be positive and negative. There might be a hidden talent you can dial up if you were aware of it.
3. Focus on targeted improvement
Knowing why your development matters – to you and others – can fuel your motivation. Rather than a complete overhaul, 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. It’s worth it I assure you.
Bringing it all together
Being vulnerable enough to see yourself accurately, through the eyes of others, takes courage. Making adjustments to 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.
What one leadership blind spot are you going to work on? I’d love to know.