Like drivers barreling down the road, we all have blind spots — those tricky spots you can’t see when only looking straight ahead.
At work, it is critical to figure out if you have any blind spots, as they can impact your effectiveness. As the term implies, they are a tough developmental areas to tackle — because we don’t know what they are!
To determine your blind spots, you’ll need to get some feedback; you need new data to take appropriate corrective action. It’s like when you’re driving a car: You need mirrors to check your surroundings.
Look around. Figure out what else needs to come into your awareness, and then make the necessary calibrations.
Begin With Increasing Your Self-Awareness Through Feedback
Given that we can’t see our blind spots, we have to ask others what they see. Here are two methods of gathering feedback that can help you spot your own blind spots:
- The simplest way is to talk with trusted colleagues. Have short debriefs after key meetings to learn more about what they observed that you might have missed.
- A more rigorous approach is to conduct a 360-degree feedback process.
4 Common Blind Spots
Feedback helps you see your blind spots. The next step is to address them! Here are four common blind spots we see while coaching clients, with practical ideas for tackling each:
Leaders can significantly underestimate the impact of their communication style on those around them.
Figure out your particular communication challenge: Do you give too much information or too little? Too frequently or not enough? Leaders may feel they are constantly communicating, but their people may feel they’re always in the dark.
Practical ideas to overcome communication blind spots include:
- Work on your messaging and communicate often: Preparation helps clear up the message.
- Engage in dialogue and seek input: Don’t just tell — check for understanding. Ask questions. Don’t assume you know what people are picking up from your communications.
- Be empathic: Seek to understand feelings and needs of others when you communicate.
A leader’s energy and mindset impacts the energy and mindset of others, both positively and negatively. Don’t underestimate that impact. It gets amplified when you are a leader.
If you have a blind spot in this area, consider the following:
- Be intentional: Determine how you want to come across to your teams and employees.
- Experiment: Make adjustments in tone and style. Be mindful of how you are showing up.
- Observe: Look at how employees and team members come across to others. Understand what works and what fits your style, and then adopt a few new practices.
Leaders spend considerable time making decisions. When rolling those decisions out, they often forget that others don’t have the benefit of that time and context. Bring people along by explaining what decisions are made and why, rather than saying, “Here is the decision. Go with it.”
Build in rounds of communication to help stakeholders understand decisions better. Make level-setting part of the effort. Schedule Q & A time with people. To be clear, this is not about revisiting the decision that has been made, but rather explaining it well. If your people understand a decision better, they’ll execute more effectively and quickly.
Leaders must get work done through others. The only way to do big things is to have others do work. If you don’t delegate enough and find yourself engaged more in doing than leading and empowering others, you could have a blind spot in delegation. To delegate well, consider:
- Providing direction and timely feedback so that your employees can deliver on expectations and adjust during the process.
- Being smart about what you delegate. Make good choices that provide others with opportunities for development and achieve results. Ask them what’s working and what’s not in the process.
- Adjusting your leadership style to the situation and audience. Some of your teams may require insight into the big picture, while others may need more direction.
From time to time, it is a good idea to check for blind spots. You don’t know what you don’t know, so start by getting some feedback. Then, take action to address your blind spots to keep driving your organization forward.
Robert P. Hewes and Margarete Dupere are senior partners at Camden Consulting Group, a division of Keystone Partners.