On Leadership and Executive Blind Spots

Executive Blind Spots

We all have patterns, habits, and beliefs that limit us. The challenge is that we generally can’t see how those thought-patterns and beliefs hold us back and what we can’t see tends to sabotage our efforts.

“Blind spots can severely impact an executive’s strategic vision, their course of action, and their rate of success.”

They impact decision-making and creativity (or lack thereof) in solving problems and they act to limit the strategic initiatives we are willing to consider. They even affect how we relate to others – hampering our leadership effectiveness, our political adeptness, and our executive presence.

It doesn’t matter what our experience in life or in business has been, what our background is, our age, level of education, or intelligence.

“No matter who are are, what your credentials may be, or what successes you may have had in the past, all of us are subject to blind spots.”

Executives, like everyone else, acquire blind spots from life. But as leaders, we suffer more blind spots caused by our need to operate within corporate or organizational environments.

Putting on Our Blinders

Blind spots show up in our beliefs, our thoughts, and our actions. These beliefs are self-limiting and are often at odds with the goals we say we want to achieve. Our beliefs are formed – good or bad, limiting or expansive – as we develop from children into adulthood.

We formulate these beliefs from the stories we invent as we seek to explain events. Unfortunately, we view these events through the lens of immaturity and without having all the facts. These flawed stories act to limit us and sometimes even come to define us.

“The key to moving past these limiting beliefs is to replace them with beliefs formed from fresh perspectives.”

When it comes to our thoughts, the same thinking that got us where we are can’t take us further. If we keep thinking in the same way, we’ll keep coming up with the same kinds of solutions. Our thinking becomes stagnant without outside stimulation.

“The only way to expand one’s thinking is to seek out new perspectives…”

This comes from reading and seeking outside input.

Too Much Focus

When we get attached to the process of how we imagine success will be attained, we become blind to other possibilities. And when that happens, we’re like a fly incessantly beating its wings against a pane of glass trying to reach its goal.

It doesn’t matter how hard we try if we’re pursuing success in the wrong way. When we’re not willing to consider other courses of action, we limit our success.

“How does one distinguish between dogged determination and blindness?”

It usually requires input from an outside, unbiased source.

Blind Spots Arise From Two Sources

The first source is corporate culture:

Corporate culture in a general sense as well as the specific “culture” of an organization. We hold beliefs about how organizations should function, how they should be structured, and which behaviors are valued.

“Every organization has its own special culture – either by design or by default.”

And while a corporate culture can be an asset, it often acts to create blind spots with executives.

The second source is the need of leaders to achieve productivity through others:

This executive blind spot often arises in the corporate world. As executives, we run the risk of our thoughts and beliefs being influenced by the thoughts and beliefs of the people under our guidance.

Removing Our Blinders

“Breaking free of limiting thoughts and beliefs is essential for achieving the results we want.”

However, there are some inherent challenges in releasing blind spots. Many blind spots are so deeply ingrained within our make-up, we’re no longer aware that they control us. Without outside perspective, these beliefs appear to be truths.

It’s important to keep in mind that generally these limiting beliefs are YOUR truths and not THE truth.

It is critical that we identify and release the self-limiting blind spots which hold us back if real progress is to be made. To that end, it requires outside perspective and input from someone who can point out what we can’t see for ourselves.

What are your blind spots? Are you receiving outside perspective or input? Or are you so attached to your blinders that you stay stuck in your leadership ditch? What can you do in the coming year to help you expand your vision and enable you to be more effective in leading others? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Michael J. Beck is President of Michael Beck International, Inc
He helps leaders improve their personal effectiveness and productivity
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Blog | Skype: xleaders | 866-385-8751

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3 responses to “On Leadership and Executive Blind Spots

  1. Hi Michael – Good post.

    There’s been some great research carried out in this field by the Harvard and Organisational Psychologist Chris Argyris on executive blind spots.

    He suggests that when under pressure and stress, as no doubt many leaders are, they tend to activate a particular way of thinking. This ‘mindset’ Argyris calls the Unilateral Control Model. When this gets activated our attention becomes inhibited by our basic desires to protect ourselves from embarrassing situations, looking stupid or incompetent in front of others or losing out. Because our thinking changes, so does our awareness and we become susceptible to what I call ‘Brain Flatulence’. I researched Argyris’s work last year and found it very compelling, particularly when talking to Leaders in Organisations.

    I’ve also written an article on the most profound Leadership Blind spot of all ‘Brain Flatulence’, you can read it here. Leadership Skills




  2. Pingback: On Leadership and Executive Blind Spots « Linked 2 Leadership | TheBeavers.net - Juice Plus·

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