Leadership and the Conflict Blind Spot

Conflict offers such a ripe place for our blind spots to hide. Through the strengths lens our blind spots can appear in different forms. For example, in my top ten strengths I have Command, Self-Assurance and Activator so I am comfortable with conflict and I don’t shy away from naming issues or calling people out. Of course, with that combination, I have also had to learn how to manage those strengths so that I am respectful and heard. At the same time I am vulnerable to blind spots showing up with the strengths that are beyond my top strengths.

There are other strengths that tend to be quite uncomfortable with disharmony and may even go to great lengths to avoid situations where conflict is or could be present. When you develop strengths intelligence you gain a deep awareness of where your strengths thrive and where you are vulnerable to the slippery slope of your blind spots.

A blind spot’s effects may not show up right away. You may miss the warning signs. Click To Tweet

Leadership Blind Spots, Conflict Blind Spot, Conflict, Toxic Behaviors, Strengths, Strengths Intelligence, Coaching, Sustainable Leadership, Diana Gabriel

One of the more common leadership blind spots is found in situations where there is conflict.

Conflict can be very healthy in relationships and organizations where a strong culture of trust is established. In a culture of trust diverse perspectives can challenge tunnel vision and the status quo, while promoting learning and innovation. When issues are respectfully and constructively debated new and creative solutions can emerge.

When accused it’s human nature to defend your ideas, actions or behaviors. Conflict becomes destructive when we fall into the toxic behaviors of criticism, contempt, defensiveness or stonewalling that have been identified by Dr. John Gottman. These toxic behaviors erode trust. They are exhibited when we are in the toxic triangle, according to the Strengths Strategic model. Empathy, compassion and insight are habitually tossed aside when you filter incoming information through the lens of your blind spots. You often categorize or judge others as irrelevant, obstacles seductively slip in self-deception.

Instead of a healthy, respectful debate, conflict becomes a power struggle that prevents you from seeing any solution (other than prevailing with your position, alone and in reality no one is a winner). The automatic mind is in full force — fueled by blind spots, strong emotions and the reflective mind is ignored.

In executive strengths coaching, I assist you in exploring a deep understanding of your strengths and uncovering your blind spots. You reflect on and dissect conflicts, explore your strengths to uncover the blind spots and identify areas of self-deception.

When leaders, like you, are aware of your strengths blind spots you are agile and adept at finding your way out of a conflict blind spot or avoiding it completely. When you become self-aware, acknowledge your blind spots and are open to feedback you can then collaborate with others. You realize that you cannot be successful on your own.

Smart leaders in conflict breathe deeply, pause, recognize the pattern, and re-center. When you return to discussions you invite input, listen and are not threatened by acknowledging common ground.

You need to ask yourself and others, “What strengths do we each bring to the table? What problem do we both want to solve? What goals and values do we share?”


Overcoming Blind Spots

“Only in acknowledging our own flaws and vulnerabilities can we become authentic leaders who empower people to perform to the best of their abilities.”
— Steven Snyder, Leadership and the Art of Struggle

A blind spot’s effects may not show up right away. Without paying careful attention, you may miss the warning signs. Therefore, it is critical for you to proactively work toward inviting feedback, uncovering and acknowledging your blind spots, before you experience the effects of being unaware.

Consider working with a certified strengths coach who can help you unlock both the power of your strengths and your blind spots. Your coach can facilitate a 360 assessment which will provide you with valuable feedback on how others experience you.

Also, take a look at past or current struggles to determine where your blind spots might be and/or have hindered your performance.

  • What can you learn from your mistakes?
  • What do you need to become more aware of regarding your strengths?
  • What can you do differently in the future?
  • How are you able to reframe situations from others’ perspectives?

When you have a clear awareness of blind spot and resist the inclination to defend your established patterns change can occur. You are then open to engaging others in the process.

If you are curious about developing your strengths intelligence to reveal your own leadership blind spots for the sake of being a more effective, influential leader, schedule a complimentary call with me to explore Strengths Coaching.


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