What we can’t see about ourselves, but is obvious to others around us, can be pure treasure.
What you may find there: Useful strengths, and self-limiting behaviors – the ones that hold you
in a pattern of even
slightly less than your best. They are usually plain to those around us, even though politeness or
fear on their part can keep them from sharing them with you.
For example, here are four leader profiles, each successful by conventional standards, knowledgeable in their field, skilled at doing their job, and leading good people:
1. The leader who is stuck on transmit, talking so incessantly that it's a thing people mention about him – AND, more importantly, the best ideas of his people go unheard and unexploited by him.
2. The "get it done" leader who seems hostile and overly demanding, even though it's not intentional -- people follow this leader out of habit rather than engagement, so she doesn’t have their best work.
3. The leader who is a world-class social and friendly type – beloved and always one of the gang, but he’s not able to make the tough calls, and results (and the shared achievements of his organization) suffer because he’s more focused on being liked than doing what’s necessary.
4. The leader who has to be "in control" and have her hand in everything, imagining that if she stops telling her people (with the best of intentions) what to do and how to do it, then the gears will grind to a halt – AND she’s exhausted, working 24/7, and leaving people wondering why she doesn’t trust them.
While you’d think each of these leaders would have heard feedback or comments about their behavior, it’s more likely they have not.After all, people don’t proactively share the contents of your blind spot with you, particularly when they can be frustrated by it:
"Uh, Jack, you talk constantly, and nobody else gets a word in edge-wise. You don't take a meeting, you take hostages. You aren't listening, you're pausing to reload. Please change. "That’s not going to happen, unless the leader seeks it out. But if that were YOUR issue, wouldn't you want to know about it?
Yes, it would be hard for the old ego. But after a few (hopefully quick) stages like shock, anger, rationalization, and acceptance -- it’s pure gold! You are already doing well, and this little bit of disturbing news would simply help you ratchet your game up to the next level.
You have to go looking for this to profit from it. As I said, people won’t proactively share it with you. Seek it out. Get an interview-based 360 evaluation.
In short, whether an untapped strength, a development area, or elephant in the room, you need to know what you are not seeing about yourself as a leader or colleague, but others see, and that would help you significantly to know and change.
Be prepared: when we first get wind of something in our blind spot -- it's embarrassing because it's so obvious to others, and we missed it ourselves. Ego hates that.
But it's worth it ... that is, only if you want to upgrade your game.