Lisa D. Anderson
What's in your Blind Spot?
Updated: Jan 19, 2019
When I was learning how to drive, my dad always told me to watch my blind spot. He was a professional truck driver and explained that the blind spot was important. There’s a car there, but for a split second, you can’t see it because the car is in your blind spot. The mirrors are there to assist you in seeing what’s around you, but you can’t always depend on them because they can’t see EVERYTHING…especially the blind spot.
In our careers, as we are developing our leadership skills, we all have blind spots. A blind spot can look like a strength, or an area that needs improvement. The point is that it is there, others can see it, but we can’t always see it because it’s in our blind spot.
There’s a lot of research on blind spots for leaders. In her book, Fearless Leadership, Loretta Malandro, Ph.D identifies the top 10 blind spots that can derail leaders:
1) Going it alone
2) Being insensitive of your behavior on others
3) Having an “I know” attitude
4) Avoiding difficult conversations
5) Blaming others or circumstances
6) Treating commitments casually
7) Conspiring against others
8) Withholding emotional commitment
9) Not taking a stand
10) Tolerating “good enough”
Early in my career, I was guilty of #1, going it alone. I was not comfortable asking other people for help even though I had a fully capable team reporting to me. I would try to do everything myself and not engage my team. One of my team members had the courage to pull me to the side and say to me that I needed to start to delegate more. She asked me did I trust that the team could get the job done. Wow…that was an eye opener for me. My lack of delegating gave my team a perception that I didn’t trust that they could get the work done. I had no idea. That was definitely in my blind spot!
An example of # 5 “blaming others” can show up in the way a person communicates. For example, you believe you are communicating clearly but you wonder why your team walks away with a different message. When someone tries to give you feedback, you discount that feedback because you can’t see (or don’t understand) why people are not getting it. In this example, you’re blaming others for their lack of understanding when it’s you that’s not communicating clearly.
A strength can also be a blind spot. For example, you may have a strength that everyone sees, but you don’t. You may be called upon to participate on a project because of your creativity or innovativeness. You wonder why you’re always picked/selected to participate, to you it’s just something you do…it’s no big deal. Others see your gift or talent, but yet, you discount it. That strength could be a potential blind spot. What’s dangerous about a strength being a blind spot is that we are not acknowledging to ourselves that we’re good at that “thing”. As women, we don’t want to slide down that slippery slope of questioning (to ourselves) that I’m not good enough. It’s that dangerous self-talk, the inner critic that we have to keep contained.
My dad taught me to be aware that there is a blind spot and check it to avoid an accident. Learning what could be potentially a blind spot for you, could help you in your career. Even though there are mirrors where you can see all around you, be aware that there may be some things in your blind spot that may be limiting you from moving to the next step in your career. So, I ask you the question…what’s in your blind spot?
Lisa is a Leadership/Career Coach that works with career women who are looking to increase their leadership skills so that they can powerfully articulate their voice and increase their executive presence.