Leaders: Get to know your blindspots

blind spotsBlindspots are those aspects of us such as our behaviour, attitude, values and beliefs that we are not even aware that we are operating or “acting out” of.  Blindspots are what others can often so clearly see in us and yet we remain oblivious to.  And blindspots can also be what gets us in trouble including career derailment. As Sir John Whitmore, author of the best selling “Coaching for Performance” and the mulitiple title holder of the British and European Motor Racing Champion puts it,  “we have a measure of choice and control over what we are aware of, but what we are unaware of controls us.”

Blindspots can be like the “pink elephants”, often (be) staring straight at us but we don’t have the perspective or context to (quite) get it.  At other times, the issue can be such a big, entrenched one that again it’s not so easy to grasp.  One can literally be “blindsided” by it!

The good news is that once we awaken to our blindspots, it can be our greatest opportunity for learning, growth and development. The awakening happens typically when we get given some feedback or feedforward from a colleague, manager, team member or a loved one.  However, the transformative opportunities latent in the blindspots can only be realised if we acknowledge, take responsibility, and own the feedback and take appropriate action. 

In my leadership coaching some of the greatest breakthroughs have happened when the “penny finally drops” and the lights go on.  As one GM said, “Knowing what I do now, makes what I was doing totally redundant and ineffective. It’s not rocket science, what I have to do to become a better leader.”

So here’s the SQ perspective (wisdom) on how to become more aware of  your blindspots.

1) Build your levels of self-awareness.  The more self-awareness you have, the faster you will be able to respond in making adjustments and changes regarding your leadership effectiveness.  Start noticing what you tend to do automatically e.g. do you find that you are always doing the talking in a meeting (not listening or facilitating) or do people go quiet around you?

2) Note and catch yourself the next time you are given feedback and you find yourself being defensive, arguing or explaining away why you think the feedback isn’t true. Notice especially any visceral reactions that you are having.  Your body doesn’t lie and these reactions can point to some level of recognition you may not currently be conscious of.

3) STOP.  Instead of closing off imagine (and try on) that this feedback, is in fact, true. Ask yourself, “so then what?”

4) Continue to stay open to this new perspective and respond accordingly. Assuming that it’s true how is this going to change your current reality?  So what are you going to do differently?

5) As you try on a new or different behaviour, action, belief, monitor how those around you are responding.  You may also wish to share the above with a trusted colleague and get their feedback as to your progress.

6) Reward yourself for having stepped up in your leadership path.

Jasbindar Singh is a business psychologist, leadership coach, author and speaker who loves creating shifts in awareness for her clients.  www.sqconsulting.co.nz

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