How to identify, strengthen your blind spots
As leaders, taking time for self-reflection is just as important as the time you take to build relationships with your team and develop strategic plans. During reflection, we consider our goals, feedback from others, lessons from failure, strengths, weaknesses and more. With this comes a sense of self-awareness to help us achieve greatness.
It can be hard to sacrifice this time when there's so much else on our plates – especially things that have concrete deadlines and outcomes, rather than something that's more abstract. You might think your time is better spent on another project. But, this Inc. article from Marissa Levin highlights how a lack of self-awareness can be detrimental to your success.
First, Levin outlines blind spots that are most common in leaders:
- Going it alone because you're afraid to ask for help.
- Being insensitive of your behavior on others (essentially lacking emotional intelligence).
- Having an "I know" attitude and valuing being right above everything else.
- Avoiding difficult conversations and conflict.
- Blaming others or circumstances and refusing to accept personal responsibility.
- Treating commitments casually and not respecting others' sacrificed time, energy, or resources.
- Conspiring against others in an effort to achieve your personal agenda.
- Withholding emotional commitment.
- Not taking a stand.
- Tolerating "good enough" and having low standards for performance.
Do any of these resonate with you? None of us are perfect and we all likely suffer from at least one of these blind spots. But we're in luck – there are ways to overcome them. As I reflect on Levin's points, I'm reminded of some of my blogs that have offered advice against these behaviors – from why setting high expectations are good for your team to showing humanity in tough situations and why asking for help is not a sign of weakness. And Levin offers these cures:
- Solicit feedback the right way. Be direct. Employees and peers might be weary of providing feedback, so be intentional with your phrasing and create a safe space for dialogue to get honest responses.
- Surround yourself with diverse thinkers with the intention of learning from them. All of our teammates bring unique knowledge and perspectives. Listen to them, watch their behaviors, and use what you learn to strengthen your leadership.
- Examine your past to identify patterns. We're creatures of habit, and it's hard to break bad ones. Self-reflection allows us to consider what went into our success and failures, and how we can keep ourselves from making the same mistakes over and over again.
- Identify triggers. All of us are prone to gut feelings and knee-jerk reactions. Acting on impulse alone can be counterproductive, especially if we're responding in negative ways. Recognize times where you're most likely to do this and allow yourself a moment to arrange your thoughts.
- Seek out a blind-spot buddy. We're more likely to achieve our goals if we have an accountability partner. Recruit someone you can trust to hold you accountable to your blind spots.
What's important in leadership is taking time to identify your blind spots and weaknesses. Then, plan concrete steps to address them so they don't work against what we're trying to achieve.
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About the Author
B. Dan Berger first joined NAFCU in 2006 and helped turn the association into the premiere advocate for the credit union industry. Since becoming president and CEO in 2013, Berger, who is also an author, economist, and one of Washington's top lobbyists, is credited with bringing national attention to key policy issues, while ensuring NAFCU's members meet policymakers at the highest levels of government.