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3 Leadership Blind Spots and How to Improve Them

By Matthew Yonally

A team is only as strong as its leader allows it to be, and while the term leader is strongly correlated with intuition, vision, inspiration, and all things mighty, leaders are still human. And as humans, they will always be capable of improving. Here are three top leadership blind spots and how they can be improved.

Communication. It is common for leaders to assume they have properly communicated things like expectations or tasks, but most often, employees have a different understanding of the conversation than the employers assumes. Communication with employees goes further than delegating tasks and checking in. While the difficult conversations of poor performance or conflict, it is crucial that leaders nip these problems in the bud; avoidance of the issues only damages the effectiveness of leadership. Employers should be aware of how their use of language (verbal or non-verbal) impacts their employees and should approach employees accordingly.

Right v. Effective. No one exactly enjoys being wrong, especially when in a leadership position. However, being open to other viewpoints and admitting when you are wrong is a key component to being an effective leader. This includes possessing an approachable attitude that allows employees the comfortability to express themselves. Leaders who refuse to consider outside thoughts will quickly diminish team spirit and team contributions.

Overestimating strategic ability. When most people think of overestimating their abilities, they view it in a negative light, but that is a lousy strategy for those looking to enhance their leadership abilities. While new skills can be learned over time, it is vital for leaders to recognize their weaknesses to overcome them.

Diana Kander, New York Times bestselling author and co-author of The Curiosity Muscle: A Story of How Four Simple Questions Uncover Powerful Insights and Exponential Growth, uses these specific questions to help leaders improve their blind spots:

  • What are my blind spots?

  • Am I focused on the right things?

  • What can I test?

  • How can I engage others to achieve my goals?

Find solutions with these steps:

  • Ask for feedback - You are looking for surprising and painful feedback. If you haven’t heard anything as such, you are not in tune with your blind spots. Provide co-workers and employees the opportunity to offer such feedback with a question like, “What is the one blind spot you think I should be more aware of?”

  • Diversity - The more perspectives, experiences, and approaches a leader has, the more equipped they are to advise others and overcome problems. By surrounding themselves with diverse thinkers, leaders can add experience and perspective to their agenda without sacrificing time.

  • Patterns - The best way to identify blind spots is to look at past experiences, feedback, and outcomes. Through examination of these things, leaders can learn to notice patterns in their behavior and adapt.

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