We’ve heard our greatest strength can also be our greatest weakness. Usually it comes into play in our personal relationships. For instance, one of my husband’s strengths I most admire is his tenacity. However, after forging through multiple home improvement projects, I have found this quality exhausting as he relentlessly presses on until the project has come to complete closure. As a leader, you may identify with some of the following strengths and how those strengths may contribute to leadership blind spots.
Protective. Your shoulders are wide and strong. You are capable of carrying the burden of those around you and are gifted at shielding others from potential or current issues. By doing this, however, you are missing out on an opportunity to engage the strengths of your team and the camaraderie that develops through the process of attacking a problem together. Address this blind spot by increasing your level of transparency and by trusting that your team is capable of dealing with the problems from which you have been “protecting” them. Be open about a problem and what it could mean and ask them for their ideas on crafting the solution.
Passionate. You invest completely in everything you do. As a result, the emotional pendulum may swing wide based on the outcome of those efforts and the degree in which you perceive others are equally invested in the focus of your passion. Your team likely finds themselves behind the curve—not being able to relate to or achieve your level of engagement. Address this blind spot by engaging your team early in the process, educating them on the reasons why this area is particularly important to the organization’s success, what that success means for them, and then carefully listening to their perspectives to insure that your passion is well-placed.
Savvy. You are a quick learner. You rapidly absorb new concepts, adeptly anticipate the impact of external and internal inputs, and are skilled at thinking on your feet. Your team, on the other hand, struggles to keep up with you. They may be hesitant to contribute ideas for fear of criticism. In fact, your team may find it easier and less risky to implement your ideas rather than come up with their own. Address this blind spot by actively seeking the input of your team—before you have weighed in on the issue. Accept that your team will grow from working their way through the process of understanding the issue and formulating a response. Almost always, the synergy of the group is better than any one idea of an individual and a sense of ownership in the idea increases the potential for passion across the team.
Fair. You want to make sure everyone is happy. You don’t want anyone to feel like they have been unfairly treated. Your perception of how individuals will potentially react to decisions heavily influences you. However, in your attempt to be a “fair” leader, your team may get frustrated because your decision for the individual overshadows what is best for the team or the organization. Address this blind spot by asking for input from trusted peers, talking with employees to determine the validity of your perceptions, taking time to contemplate decisions, and considering the larger impact of your decisions.
Persuasive. You are a true salesperson—smooth and charismatic. You are capable of convincing others to embrace your ideas, buy your product, and believe in your vision. Over time, however, your team may observe that your ideas don’t always hit the mark. They see that you may not have considered all angles and that your direction may have been determined a bit hastily. Address this blind spot by handing ideas off early and asking your team to research, identify the pros and cons, and present their recommendations. Be ready for criticisms, which can often be experienced as negativity, by shifting your approach to one where you are presenting ideas with the goal of gathering input rather than presenting to gain buy in.
Identifying our personal blind spots can be challenging. To shine a light on yours, ask for candid input from your team members and peers or consider leveraging the unbiased input and assistance of an HR professional or leadership coach. Knowing where blind spots exist and how to navigate through them increases everyone’s confidence in offering their best without holding back for safety. You might be surprised at the results!