Blind Spot

Having A Blind Spot:  Good or bad thing? ...by Jeff Haltrecht

Jeff Haltrecht is a principal Leadership Coach at the Polaris Learning Academy and the Facilitator of the Polaris Alumni; he is a regular contributor to Polaris Digest.

The dreaded blind spot!  In leadership one might say it's a bad thing.  But is it really?  Whoever said we have to be perfect, that to have followers means having to be invincible, or better yet, to have the answer to all questions?

The truth is, each of us is imperfect and that's what makes us unique.  But you already know this.

Yes, each person has a blind spot and I would argue that not only is it a good thing, it's even better when you know what it is. 

By definition, a blind spot is a character trait that keeps you from seeing or being aware of something around you.  Using myself as an example, I am at times blind to corporate politics in very large companies.  I know it exists, but I don't always see it being played, even right before my eyes.  I'm focused on adding value to the business and assume others are too; but this is not always the case.

Knowing this trait about myself, I am now in a better position to work with it.  If I were employed at a large public corporation, I could surround myself with people who were good at corporate politics and who would keep me wise to what was happening.  Or I could choose to work for a private company with a culture that eschews political games.

In both situations, being aware of my blind spot is making me a better leader.

For most people, identifying your blind spot will take time; it’s typically not something that stands out immediately.  Look for situations that occur repeatedly, the ones where you regularly get tripped-up.  Each time ask yourself "Why did that happen?" and "Could I have seen this coming if I was more aware?"

If the answer is almost always "No, I’m not sure I could have seen this coming", you may have found the blind spot.

Talk with a close peer or your manager about the repeated events as a way to validate what you are experiencing.  Once identified, think of two or three things that you will do to protect yourself from being ‘blind sided’ next time.

I should point out there is a subtle difference between a blind spot and a weakness.  The latter is a functional skill that you are not good at and which should be delegated to someone else for effectiveness.  It is a skill weakness that can be identified from a self-assessment.

Knowing your weaknesses helps you play to your strengths.  Knowing your blind spot helps keep you out of trouble.  Subtle, but definitely different!

What is your blind spot and how do you compensate for it?