Have you ever tried changing lanes only to have an irritated driver (Where’d he come from?) behind you lay on the horn? You swerve back into your own lane breathing a sigh of relief as no one got hurt and your heart pounds about 20x faster. You just encountered a blind spot.
Blind spots. We all have them. If we are lucky, we have supportive people in our lives that point them out – and if we are wise, we graciously accept constructive criticism. As leaders, blind spots not only have the potential to hurt us but they can have repercussions beyond ourselves and ripple into our teams.
Just like checking your blind spots before changing lanes on a highway, leaders need to check their blind spots for the good of the teams they lead.
Every good leader I’ve known:
- Seeks out a trusted lieutenant; someone who will tell them the hard truths, and will be a good sounding board for decision paths. Just like the blaring horn from the car behind you, a trusted voice of reason can help you make mid-course corrections.
- Has someone in the trenches that they can call to get the real pulse of the team. By keeping in touch with someone on the floor, it will help a leader better understand the presentations in the conference rooms. But realize, if you hear something you don’t like – you still have to calmly listen for the good of the team.
- Continually does self-assessments and adjusts for the good of the team. Being honest with yourself is one of the first steps to having a successful team. You just avoided an accident. Be thankful.
Please realize, no one is perfect. No one has the corner on the “good idea market”. As a result, good leaders bring in team members to shore up what the leader may not be great at doing. If you are really good at long-term visioning but your day to day attention to detail is lacking, you need someone who can help you with your blind spot.
It is critical to know your strengths. Remember, a strength that’s overblown becomes a liability. You need to know what you can and cannot do, and then fill that gap within your team. One of the hardest things a leader has to do is admit they have a “gap” somewhere in their abilities. However, if you don’t address the gap, it can turn into something larger than the leader ever intended it to.
Sadly, sometimes instead of a simple horn blowing that keeps you in your lane, it’s the sound of metal crunching as two cars meet and your week (and theirs) completely changes. Don’t let your blind spots hurt your team.