As Chief Administrative Officer, I had a great team but was experiencing issues with my peers and my boss – it really didn’t affect anyone who reported to me, or so I thought. I didn’t fully understand how it made my team feel and how it negatively affected their productivity. They didn’t know if they could trust me because I wasn’t fully trusted by the CEO and some of the other officers. I was ‘blind’ to the impact because I was in the middle of the problem and not looking at how it impacted them.
I love the idea; when better is possible, good can never be good enough. As a leader, I believe we all have the responsibility to lead others better tomorrow than we did today. If we have a blindspot, we need to become aware of it, but that’s not everyone’s idea of a good time. If I have a blindspot and don’t know it, I can ‘avoid’ it because I am unaware.
One client I worked with had such a bad way of working with others that the company wanted to fire him. He told me that his style was necessary to influence the Docs and the Administrators he worked with. He was so hard to work with that the 360 feedback I gave him was screaming with blindspot or what Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman call “Fatal Flaws”. Zenger Folkman’s 2-year research project clearly shows that a leader with a fatal flaw will not be perceived as being effective -all their strengths are covered up until the fatal flaw is greatly diminished or removed. Understanding their research insights, one would have to say that a leader will never be great with a flaw that is so demonstrative that it is considered “fatal”.
So, a better question for a leader is; do you want to become a great leader?
It follows that you need feedback, even if it includes information pointing to a blind spot. Back to Zenger Folkman; their research shows that 20 – 30 % of all leaders who receive their 360-degree assessment called the Extraordinary Leader Assessment have a fatal flaw.
I have coached people who had a feeling that they had something that is undiagnosed as a leadership blind spot. Look at this list that Zenger Folkman created from their research and see if anything gives you a slight twinge and consider if you need to get some data to suggest whether it is really a blind spot or not.
- Not inspiring due to a lack of energy and enthusiasm
- Accepting mediocre performance in place of excellent results
- Lack of clear vision and direction
- Loss of trust stemming from perceived bad judgment and poor decisions
- Not a collaborative team player
- Not a good role model (failure to walk the talk)
- No self-development and learning from mistakes
- Lacking interpersonal skills
- Resistant to new ideas, thus did not lead change or innovate
- Focus is on self, not the development of others