Values and Strategy : 2 More Common Blind Spots

One of the foundations of my coaching with clients begins with identifying their five core values – the values you typically assume you know. In my 16 years of coaching I have met very few people who have ever consciously participated in a contemplative exercise to examine what provides meaning and purpose in their life and identify their core values.

So, why is it a big deal to consciously contemplate what your core values are? I have found a pattern in my work with clients – they describe a ‘discomfort’ with something in their work environment but are not able to put their finger on just what it is. What you discover most often, after identifying your core values, is that something in your work environment is not in alignment with your core values, leaving you with a feeling of vague unease. By identifying your core values and making them conscious you can mitigate the values blind spot that can occur. You are more informed of to what you want to say yes and to what you want to say no, both professionally and personally. You are executing from a place of empowered choice.

When you encourage input at all levels you foster a culture of trust. Click To Tweet

Five Core Values, Leadership Blind Spots, Empowered Choice, Cognitive Dissonance, Values blind spots, Strategy blind spots, encourage input, culture of trust, Walk the Talk, Sustainable Leadership, Diana Gabriel

I have been discussing how even great leaders are susceptible to falling into faulty thought and leadership blind spots. No one is immune, not even myself as a Certified Strength Coach.

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

1. Experience
2. Strengths Blind Spots
3. Values
4. Strategy
5. Conflict

In spite of themselves, even great leaders are vulnerable to any of these five common blind spots. A prime example is when your attitude and emotions are out of sync with your values; you become uncomfortable and unbalanced—a state psychologists call “cognitive dissonance.” In short, what we say and do is incongruent with what we believe and who we believe we are.

Values blind spots can occur on a personal or group level. They are particularly insidious when you are somewhat aware of them, but fail to take appropriate corrective action.

In business situations, a values blind spot can affect large groups. Can you think of a time when an implicit directive to produce better results conflicted with an organization’s core values, value promise or your core values? These are some of the typical traps where values blind spots occur.

Closely related are strategy blind spots. For example, organizations often reward conformity and marginalize or even punish critical or questioning voices.

When a collective worldview around a set of practices, assumptions or beliefs becomes self-reinforcing, there is potential for groupthink. Creativity, innovation and agility suffer because conformance is valued above courageous authenticity or change, and risk is discouraged.

Strategy blind spots can occur in any organizational area. They are not restricted to values. Unfortunately, they are often spotted in hindsight – after an important opportunity is missed, the organization is in trouble or the creative talent leaves the organization.

When you, as a leader, invite and model openness, vulnerability and transparency you have the best chance of spotting and avoiding strategy blind spots. When you encourage input at all levels you foster a culture of trust where ideas are welcomed, genuinely debated and considered.

When you, as a leader, communicate values and openness, but do not “walk the talk,” you appear blinded and are not trusted. Often, you don’t recognize nor own the same reality your followers are experiencing. Our self-deception is in full play.

Sometimes, it takes an astute executive strengths coach to assist you in recognizing your blind spots. What have been your experiences being blinded by the blind spots within an organization? It’s a place that I have experienced and am quite familiar with. I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below, contact me or let’s connect on LinkedIn.

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