Leadership Blind Spots

We all know everyone has strengths and weaknesses and if you didn’t, now you do!  

What’s interesting is we don’t always know what ours are. I’m a big proponent of finding your strengths and focusing on improving in those areas and helping your team do the same. That being said, sometimes we have weaknesses or bad habits that are holding us back that we may not even realize exist. In this case, I’m not talking about “skills” so much as character traits or maybe character flaws is a better way to put it. 

There is a lot of talk about the “Strengths Movement” these days and I’m a huge advocate of this when it comes to the roles you perform in your day-to-day work. People will always be more engaged in work they are proficient at than if they’re constantly struggling to “perform up to snuff”. Therefore I feel that working to improve areas of strength makes more sense than trying to improve on weaknesses…with two exceptions. 

The first one is if you have a dream or goal that you’re passionate about and you need to learn a skill to follow that dream and meet that goal, then GO FOR IT! But you should probably do that on your own time and dime! 

The second exception is the one I want to talk about here and that is if there is a character imperfection or behavioral flaw that’s holding you back. Then I say, “Work on improving it!”

I recently read the book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith. I highly recommend it, especially for anyone in a leadership position. The premise of the book is that regardless of how successful we’ve been, there are always areas on which we could improve and often we don’t even realize what they are – “blind spots” is what they are. 

We all have them and unless we dig deep and are vulnerable with our team they won’t even necessarily tell us what they are. That’s right, our team knows exactly what they are, however, unless we’ve built a culture of accountability and trust they’re not likely going to tell us. The good news is if you read this book with an open mind you’ll likely discover one or two yourself!

In the book he describes 21 habits that we may be falling victim to that are preventing us from taking our leadership to the next level. For me, three of them hit home but the one that really stung was Habit # 2 – Adding too much value. At first this almost sounds like bragging but it’s just the opposite. This is when we feel the overwhelming desire to add our “two cents” to every discussion or idea.

I can think of many times that I’ve done this. Someone would come to me with an idea, maybe for a new brochure we should create or an incentive we should offer our team and they were often great ideas! But rather than saying YES, LET’S DO THAT – instead I would offer a suggestion to “improve” their idea. Now don’t get me wrong, that in itself isn’t a problem. The problem is when you always do it! Here’s a passage from the book explaining what’s really happening in these scenarios.

“The problem is, you may have improved the content of my idea by 5%, but    you’ve reduced my commitment to executing it by 50%, because you’ve taken away my ownership of the idea. My idea is now your idea – and I walk out of your office less enthused about it than when I walked in. That’s the fallacy of added value. Whatever we gain in the form of a better idea is lost many times over in our employee’s diminished commitment to the concept.”

Next time a team member comes to you with a great idea, pause and think before you “add value”. You may be doing just the opposite.

Jon Weening

Jon Weening

I have two passions that are the driving force behind my work; the first, to help business owners and leadership teams become their best and the second – a natural result of the first – to help create fulfilling and engaging work places for their teams.

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