When I was teaching my older daughter to drive, one of the things that we talked about quite a bit was the importance of doing a shoulder check before you change lanes. Always use your blinker, and always do a shoulder check. She asked why she couldn’t just use the side view and rear view mirrors; a logical question to be sure. My answer?
Because of the blind spots.
There’s a spot between the coverage of the mirrors that you cannot see by looking in the mirrors alone. That’s why you MUST always do a shoulder check. All it takes is one near miss that makes your heart leap into your throat and you will never forget again.
Blind spots can be deadly.
At a conference many years ago now, I heard a speaker talk about some research that he had recently come across, explaining that leaders have blind spots in their leadership. He noted that, according to the study he saw, the average for leaders is to have 3.4 blind spots. The thing about a blind spot is you don’t see it; you don’t know you have it. And unless you can do a “shoulder check,” you’ll never know.
And blind spots can be deadly in leadership too.
How do you discover your blind spots? Here are a few ideas to help us.
- Ask your team. The people around you likely know FAR more of your blind spots than you do. And they will never tell you unless you 1) ask, and 2) create an environment where it is safe to tell you. I know that I can’t fix or address what I’m not aware of, so I do my best to create an environment that is not only a safe place for things to be shared, but where it’s understood that I value and expect them to be.
- Ask your spouse. If you’re married, it’s very likely your spouse can be a big help here. Again, you have to create an environment where it is safe, where it’s ok to give the “last 10%” of honesty. (That last 10% is where the magic and transformation is, by the way.)
- Ask your coach. It’s very difficult to see the whole picture when you are in the frame. That’s why I’ve had a coach for many years now. A good coach is worth their weight in gold; they will ask the right questions to help you gain insight, understanding, and self-awareness that you simply aren’t likely to get to on your own. As a leadership and executive coach, I love helping leaders discover their blind spots and then develop a plan to address them. That not only helps the leader – it helps their team and their organization.
You can’t fix or address what you don’t see.
Do you know what your leadership blind spots are? What is your plan to discover and address them?