Leadership Blind Spots: 5 Reasons to Look in the Mirror

Leadership Blind Spots

You have blind spots. Just like the cars we drive, you have them as a leader. Some of us have HUGE blind spots. Some of us have moderate sized blind spots. And then some are lucky enough to have very small ones.

…But we all have them.

The Blind Leading Himself

Over the years, my blind spots have kept me from achieving the things I should have. At times they have even gotten me into trouble.

So how do blind spots cause such big problems?

There are many ways! There are many more that the average leader might imagine.

But here is the short list. Blind Spots:

  1. Keep us from seeing things about ourselves that we need to see. Author Dr. James Gills calls this Spiritual Cataracts, which cause an inability to see ourselves as others see us.
  2. Prevent us from considering other, usually contrasting points of view. Dr. Madeleine Van Hecke, author of Blind Spots devotes a chapter to this in her book.
  3. Keep us from thinking “out of the box” when they cause biases that get in the way of free and creative thinking.
  4. Often put us in the position where we fail to see the big picture when we get too close to a particular point (can’t see the forest for the trees)
  5. Sometimes lead you to reach a conclusion without examining all of the possible alternatives. Your eventual decision ends up somewhat less than optimal.

Taking Off the Blinders

Can you prevent (or at a minimum reduce) blind spots?

Of course! I wouldn’t be writing this blog if I didn’t think so!

What has worked for me is a handful of things that I work hard to put into practice constantly.

These include:

  1. Frequent introspective exercises (i.e. person in the mirror). Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Step Program defines this as step 4, “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves”. I do this daily. It requires practice, discipline, and objectivity about yourself.
  2. Engaging trusted friends or mentors to evaluate your behavior, communication, interaction, or other dimensions of your character. This is sometimes referred to as a 360 degree evaluation. It takes a thick skin.
  3. Taking additional time to think through alternatives when thinking about and trying to solve problems or issues and not short cutting the process. This technique allows me to consider more alternatives.
  4. Thinking all the way through to potential consequences of one’s actions. Doing this also makes it easier to consider options one would not have taken the time to look at.
  5. Putting aside pride and reflecting on the real value of humility . This seems to loosen me up and allows me to see things more clearly.

I have met a very few people in my life (maybe three or so?) that I believe had no blind spots.

In other words, these few were so introspective, so in-tune with themselves, and so aware of how they interacted with people that they could see in their mind what anyone else saw about them in any given moment.

This awareness attribute takes humility, desire, willingness and practice.

The rest of us mere mortals aren’t that lucky.

So, what about you? Can you recognize your own blind spots? What techniques have you found effective in addressing your blind spots? Do you look at the person in the mirror to better understand where you have been, where you are, and where you are going? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


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Enrique P. Fiallo is an Author, Speaker and Blogger on Purposeful Leadership
He focuses on Integrity, Ethics, Values, Team Dynamics, and Perseverance
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | 786.269.7032

Image Sources: business-ethics.com

8 responses to “Leadership Blind Spots: 5 Reasons to Look in the Mirror

  1. It is a Daily Discipline to continue to ask yourself the tough questions day in and day out to discover your blind spots and overcome them. You definitely need to be thick skinned to be able to ask what your blind spots are and accept what you hear. I think it is natural for us (as human beings) to be defensive, and think, “That’s Not Me!” Tough to hear and accept.

    It’s a marathon – not a sprint for sure!


  2. Good article Henry. Step 1 (realizing you have blind spots) is the hardest. Many don’t even get to that point.

    One question I always ask myself (which has served me well) is, “am I acting in the best interest of my customer?” Regardless of who the customer is, just that question makes me evaluate my decisions.


    • Great question to ask, and you can add to that, in the best interests of my family, wife, children, and in the best interests of God. Thanks Sohail.


    • This is one of the reasons why the Marine Corps is such a together organization. They have principles! Thanks for sharing that Robert.


  3. I just got a chance to read your article. Thank you for sharing it. I think this is a great topic not only for leaders but for everyone. I think if all of us could see how we were preceived by others I think we would live in a much nicer environment.


    • Hi Alex. Yes, sometimes we tend to discount other’s perceptions, but we can indeed learn much from examining what others perceive about us. Thanks for the comments.


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