The Rx for Diagnosing and Curing Blind Spots
We all have them. Some can’t see them at all. Some of us have more of them than others. Some of us try to deny them. Some of us try to work around them. Some of us try to work with them. Some of us see them, work to reduce them, and help our teams do the same. Do you or your team fit any of these categories?
Of course, the problem with blind spots is that we call them blind spots for a reason. We can’t see them – at least not in ourselves. Oh, but we can diagnose them quickly enough in others. The other problem with blind spots is that having them and failing to diagnose them brings leaders to their knees, pulls teams apart, kills productivity, and can cause a business to fail. Therefore, making the case for urgency in diagnosing blind spots is a solid one.
Getting back to your “why” can be the best starting point. In case you’ve been under a rock and haven’t watched Simon Sinek’s video on finding the why and how great leaders inspire action, it bears a view or a repeat view if you have seen it. Why does your business exist? Does everyone in your organization know the answer, the correct, answer to that question? Or should that be the “right” answer to that question? If the focus is simply to make a profit at the expense of your customers and on the backs of your employees, that blind spot is a disease that if not cured will bring death to your business.
Early and frequent diagnosis can be a lifesaving serum. Cultivating this is best in the petri dish of open and honest communication. Feedback is not a formal accusation. As an example, if anyone has ever been part of a group debrief of the popular DISC assessment, it is (or should be) full of self-learning, understanding of others, and yes (Gasp!) humor. In these exercises, the leader goes first. Everyone is human, everyone is vulnerable, and everyone has flaws, and strengths. When the leader shows no fear in showing his or hers, the inspiration for others to become more open and understanding is infectious in a good way. When this type of feedback is the norm in an organization, blind spots will still be there, but they will fail to become infectious in a bad way.
In times past, when we were ailing, we saw one doctor for anything and everything. Now, we have medical teams. Care coordination is online so every doctor on your team is aware of what every other doctor on your team is prescribing, addressing, and recommending. Each doctor appreciates the other’s expertise.
Your organizational teams should be no different. There are multi-generations in the work force. The success of these generations working together rests on your culture being one that appreciates the other’s experience, expertise, and areas of knowledge. When one generation has a blind spot about the other generation there will be conflict. If leaders have blind spots about conflict, there will be chaos. When there is chaos, the diagnosis for failure can become a deathly illness.
Balancing the View
Self-awareness is the foundation for diagnosing and curing many blind spots. Balancing one’s view of the external and internal world is another. Some people can have a blind spot concerning the world outside themselves. Others can have a blind spot about themselves. Most of us strive for those views to have a balance. Here are how those blind spots may surface.
Internally, some people see themselves as victims. Their blind spot is that they have no power, the world is against them, and blame, failure to accept responsibility, excuses, and poor decision making are their areas of disability. The other internal extreme, is the person with the blind spot who thinks they can (and should) handle everything. The one thing they can see is the cape they wear. Unfortunately, this blind spot leads to burnout, resentment, anger, and yes even victim thinking. These blind spots can suffer from a low sense of self-awareness, their roles and responsibilities, and self-direction.
Externally, blind spots may include the failure to understand other people, have a poor sense of systems judgment (tasks), and lack practical thinking. The impairment affects their feeling, doing and thinking from an external standpoint. This may help explain why some people feel they deserve to be part of the C-Suite after just six months. Clearly, succession is a system with no understanding.
Development and Coaching
Prescribing development and coaching can be a good Rx for blind spots. Of course, leaders and executives must be willing to acknowledge their blind spots. In addition, understanding the threat that blind spots may bring to the organization is essential. Leadership teams must work together to implement best practices in diagnosing and curing blind spots not just for today, but consistently and continuously as one cares for a chronic disease.
Fortunately, vehicle manufacturers improve our safety through technology improving our blind spots. Unfortunately, in business there is no app for that. Therefore, it is imperative that we all remain vigilant about the diagnosis and cure for our organizational blind spots as they are just as dangerous as those of our vehicles.
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