Recognizing, Claiming and Managing Leadership Blind Spots

Through my Strengths Strategy coaches training I became intrigued with the many facets of my own blind spots. First, there is the obvious or habitual way of seeing blind spots – We don’t know what we don’t know. Then, Strengths Blind-Spots were introduced adding another dimension to my thinking about blind spots. These are the strengths/contributions that are beyond my top 15-17 strengths to which I am blind. At one time I would have classified these as weakness and are the places where I judge others or experience strong reactions.

The more aware I became of the interplay between my top strengths the more I came to realize my tentativeness to fully claim some of my strengths. These strengths also created a blind spot to where I could be contributing more fully.

Over the next few weeks I will be taking a deeper dive into examining blind spots, what you can do to uncover and recognize them, and options for being in relationship with your blind spots.

Behavioral blind spots can create unintended consequences: weaken trust, distort judgment, reduce… Click To Tweet

blind spots,habits,awareness,honest feedback,ineffective behaviors,strengths,leadership coach,Diana Gabriel

If you lack the influence you hoped for, it may be because you are operating in a blind spot. One of the challenges of leadership – how do you become aware of how your message and way of being is received? Bind spots exist for everyone, even when you have the best of intentions and thought you had clearly communicated what is needed.

“Leadership is a struggle by flawed human beings to make some important human values real and effective in the world as it is.”
– Steven Snyder, Leadership and the Art of Struggle

There is no escaping it. No matter how hard we try to be self-aware, everyone – including the very best leaders – have ineffective behaviors or ways of being that are invisible to ourselves but glaring to everyone else.

When there are in-congruencies between what you say and what you do as a leader, your messages are not received as they were intended. People hear a different message. There is a disconnect between what is said and what is heard.

Your behavioral blind spots can create unintended consequences. They weaken trust, distort judgment, corrupt decision-making, reduce your awareness, create distance and silos, and sabotage business results.

In my leadership coaching, I see leaders, like you, who are particularly vulnerable to your blind spots. Some leaders subscribe to the all-consuming belief that they are to have all the answers and are solely responsible to handle all challenges great and small. They overextend their capacity of self-confidence at the expense of receiving feedback, reflection or introspection. For many, the need to be right or ‘seen as…’ undermines being effective.

Leaders may fail to see that their behaviors can be destructive to themselves and others, even when their intentions are positive. However, we often forget that others judge them on their behaviors and results – not by intentions.

A blind spot is a performance-hindering mindset or behavior of which you are unaware or have chosen to overlook. A recent Business Week article cites some important research:

  • A Hay Group study shows that an organization’s senior leaders are more likely to overrate themselves and develop blind spots that can hinder their effectiveness.
  • A study by Development Dimensions International, Inc., found that 89 percent of front-line leaders have at least one skills-related blind spot.

The Hay research suggests that, as executives rise within an organization they are less likely to see themselves as others perceive them. They often lose touch with those they lead – not surprising, given their increased isolation and the executive suite’s insulated environment. As you reach the pinnacle of your profession, you have fewer peers, less feedback and greater power.

Honest feedback and open dialogue often become rare commodities. This can pose a serious problem, as researchers have found a direct correlation between high performance and accurate self-awareness.

There are a few ways to work with leadership blind spots. You can…

  • establish a 360-degree feedback processes (even in the executive suite). I recommend The Leadership Circle 360 assessment. It provides both technical and relational feedback.
  • engage in strengths based executive coaching.
  • foster a culture that values open feedback, vulnerability and dialogue (particularly at the top).


What has been your experience with identifying your blind spots? Has anyone ever pointed out to you a possible disconnect? How do you make sure you are receiving feedback? I would love to hear from you. Contact me or let’s connect on LinkedIn.



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