2 Minds. 5 Leadership Blind Spots

Along my journey to unravel my blind spots I have explored multiple perspectives on identifying my blind spots, a few that I will share with you over the next few weeks. However, to understand the contributions of my strengths, their needs, their triggers, overuse patterns and my blind spots, I always return to the Strengths Strategy model. Deepening my strengths intelligence has provided me multiple tools to both contribute more effectively and manage my blind spots.

Your top 10 strengths contribute to your automatic thought patterns. They become the lens through which you interrupt the world and the lens becomes your common sense or automatic thought processor – the grounding for your unconscious competence. It is our automatic thought patterns that lead to our automatic behaviors until we pause, reflect and dive in to understand how our strengths play together in harmony and set the stage for our blind spots.

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Your strengths become the lens. The lens becomes your common sense. Click To Tweet

Have you ever noticed that even very smart and psychologically aware leaders find themselves trapped in the same leadership blind spots?

“Blind spots are the product of an overactive automatic mind and an underactive reflective mind.”
– Steven Snyder, Leadership and the Art of Struggle

According to Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman in Thinking, Fast and Slow, The brain has two systems for thinking:

System 1 for FAST thinking
System 2 for SLOWER thinking

System 1, the fast, or automatic, mind reaches judgments and conclusions quickly, but often prematurely. Intuitive and aware, it makes associations with already-stored and easily accessible information. It is eager to achieve order and understanding, and is therefore subject to error.

System 2, also known as the reflective mind, is slower and more methodical. It is capable of rational thought and even metathought: the ability to consciously observe one’s thinking processes from a distance. It challenges assumptions and generates alternatives, objectively evaluating and analyzing them.

System 2 helps us take conscious and intentional actions—but it is also slow and requires a lot of energy. Therefore, it often cedes control to the automatic mind, which conserves energy resources.

In my work as a strengths leadership coach, we try to discover more about a leader’s automatic thought habits through the lens of your strengths. Great leaders learn to become aware of and train Systems 1 and 2 to work synergistically. Through learning, you have the capacity to use your strengths to nurture your reflective mind to be more proactive and sagacious while managing your automatic mind or strengths to increase its associative powers. You can also collaborate with others who have strengths opposite your own to gain a better perspective for problem solving. You are ultimately rewarded with more creative, diverse ideas for the reflective mind to consider.

An Internet search for “blind spots” produces a virtually endless list of disastrous leadership decisions, based on common cognitive biases that lead to faulty thinking.

We can group the most common blind spots into five key categories:

Personality (Strengths Blind Spots)

In spite of themselves, even great leaders, like you, can fall into any of these five common blind spots. In my next posts, I will discuss these in more detail.

Have you ever worked for a leader who had glaring blind spots? What was that like? I would love to hear from you regarding your blind spots. Leave a comment below, contact me or let’s connect on LinkedIn.


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