The 3 common blind spots in leaders (and how you can stop them)

by Editorial Team on August 24, 2022

Blind spots are familiar to everyone. In psychology; the term is used to represent things that others perceive that the self does not. These could be traits, habits, or feelings you’re unaware of that you might think, feel, or express. 

Often these blind spots come from perceptions that live in our conscious and subconscious - rooted in past experiences, relationships, and community.

So how is this relevant to leaders?

Our attitudes and perceptions shape how we see the world; and how successful we are in it. Regardless of whether a viewpoint is 'right' or 'wrong', it’s important to note that some feelings, attitudes, or habits can get in the way of our performance. Leaders can have attitudes and beliefs that they’re unaware of limit their productivity, creativity, or relationships.

These sneaky beliefs are hard to identify - as they live in your subconscious way of thinking about work and leadership. That’s why we call them blind spots! 

If you’re interested in uncovering the areas you might be limiting yourself as a leader - consider getting a partner in the discovery process. This is where exceptional executive coaching comes into play. Executive coaches are some of the best individuals to support, guide and coach you through the process of identifying your blindspots and implementing more effective habits for performance.

Today we share 3 of the more common blind spots we see in leadership, some examples of how they show up at work, and new habits you can use to begin to create more positive behaviors.

  1. Being Right. Do you find yourself doubling down when someone challenges your statements? Do you struggle with mistakes? Have you heard that you can overtalk people or dominate conversations in meetings? These are all examples of a subconscious belief that leaders need to be right and without error.
    • Alternative Perception: Rather than thinking you must be right to be valued as a leader, try thinking “I have many traits that people value. Learning from my mistakes is one of them.”
    • A new habit to try: If you struggle with dominating conversations (even when you don’t intend to), make a goal to let others lead meetings where they can. This challenges you to listen more than lead and observe and appreciate others’ expertise.
  2. Being Liked. Do you get anxious around conflict? Do you avoid difficult conversations? Does the idea of a complaining client give you an uneasy feeling? You could be feeling the subconscious belief that you need to be liked by everyone as a leader.
    • Alternative Perception: In moments where you feel the “I don’t want to upset them” trigger; try telling yourself “I respect them enough to be honest with them, and want us all to be successful.”
    • A new habit to try: Practice difficult conversations with trusted individuals first. Your coach, mentor, or friend will help you find the right way to present your side and prepare for any potential conflict.
  3. Being Perfect. Do you struggle with making decisions? Do you find yourself waiting until you know for sure what the answer is? Have you ever missed a deadline because you thought you wanted to review it one more time? These are all signs of a belief that leaders and their projects need to be perfect.
    • Alternative Perception: In moments where you’re struggling with progress over perfection, try telling yourself “By testing and improving along the way, we continue to reach new levels of excellence”.
    • New habit: Allow yourself to make mistakes. Challenge yourself to try 1 new thing every week/month/etc and give yourself permission to fail ahead of time. This helps you practice your resilience and gets you more comfortable with progress over perfection.

Ultimately; these three examples are just used to be illustrative. The best way to combat ingrained habits and thought patterns is deeply personal - you need to do the work to identify your own areas of growth, alternate perceptions that fit your world, and habits that you can implement for consistent success. Simply using a phrase or mantra that someone tells you is not likely to be nearly as effective. It takes regular, intentional effort to overcome any blindspot. Be sure to continue your work identifying, addressing, and redirecting both new beliefs in your life.

For many of us - we are the greatest obstacle to our own success. Overcoming your blind spots could be the best way of guaranteeing your long-term success!

Topics: Effective Leadership