Monday, February 1, 2010

Leaders’ Top Blind Spots

Even the best and brightest of leaders have blind spots, and often these unproductive behaviors that you may not see are visible to everyone else. These behaviors create consequences for you, your team and your company.

Here is a look at common blind spots and advice for recognizing and resolving them.

1. Going at it AloneSymptoms: Refusing offers of support, withdrawing from others, not talking about stresses or anxiety, and not including others in decision making.

Why it’s damaging: Isolating yourself creates anxiety and uncertainty to others, leaving room for frustrations to build and for people to fill in the blanks, spread rumors, and withdraw their efforts.

What to do: Talk to others about your tendencies to solve problems alone and ask them to point out when you are withdrawing, so you can stop excluding and start including.

2. An “I Know” AttitudeSymptoms: Having an answer for everything, fixed views, not listening, diminishing what others have to say, and arguing with anyone who does not share your point of view.

Why it’s damaging: Others feel devalued and angry. Innovation and creativity comes to a halt as the “I know” leader dominates the conversation and shoots down new ideas.

What to do: Recognize that this blind spot causes you to miss information and new ideas. Ask “What have I missed? What am I not seeing? How am I limiting new possibilities?”

3. Treating Commitments CausallySymptoms: Not making or keeping commitments, not delivering when promised, not providing a clear commitment, and making casual promises without the intent to keep them.

Why it’s damaging: People can no longer trust your word, and it reduces your credibility. The environment becomes overrun with sloppy promises, accepting excuses over results, and not holding each other accountable.

What to do: Be absolutely clear about what you are committing to. If you must take back a commitment do so prior to the promised deadline and take accountability for your impact.

4. Not taking a standSymptoms: Lacking clarity and direction on issues, not making decisions, reversing decisions already made, and lack of decisiveness.

Why it’s damaging: Confidence is lost in leaders who wait for consensus, are slow to reach decisions, or are unclear on their stance. Others spend their time trying to second guess what you really want.

What to do: Be clear about what you want and are willing to commit to, and stop making others read your mind.

5. Tolerating “Good Enough”Symptoms: Maintaining status quo, accepting things are fine the way they are, refusing to investigate solutions outside a comfort zone, and rejecting new ideas

Why it’s damaging: Others see their leader not demanding excellence and become discouraged. People want to be on a winning team and leaders lose support as people adopt a “nothing is ever going to change” attitude.

What to do: Take a look at why you are holding back. Why is this idea as good as it gets? Raise your level of leadership awareness and lead by example. This will inspire others.

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