Updated: Sep 23, 2020
What kind of danger is in your blind spots?
Have you had a boss or co-worker who persistently behaved in a way that seemed to hurt their own effectiveness? Few of us thoughtfully create behaviors designed to cause ourselves and others problems. Yet these kinds of behaviors appear frequently at work -- and home. Why?
Car companies have added technology designed to help reduce one danger zone of driving: the blind spot.
Yellow lights, red lights, blinking lights, some kind of signal is generated to let the driver know there is a danger they may not be aware of. They didn’t do this out of the goodness of their hearts: they did it to create competitive advantage or to not fall behind competition.
Do blind spot behaviors put your company’s competitive position at risk?
We can all see the danger when companies ignore the dangers that threaten them. Other people see looming doom, but the company seems to completely miss it. The giant Kmart could not see how upstart Walmart would make it irrelevant. Borders could not see how Amazon could threaten it. In the 1970’s, U.S. car companies just did not see how crappy Japanese cars could lead to a complete makeover of the U.S. car market. And let’s not forget Blockbuster…
Do your blind spots put you at risk?
If not seeing how current business practices dramatically hurts companies, doesn’t it make sense that the same lack of insight could hurt individuals? Perhaps, we see only what we want to see? Or people fear to tell us the unvarnished truth due to our position, power, status, relationships, etc.
If I’m Blind, How Can I See My Blind Spot?
Unless you suspect that a potential blind spot is getting in your way, Newton’s First Law of Motion will likely guide your way. You will continue with the behaviors you have learned over a lifetime unless someone or something so strongly hits you in the heart that you make a conscious decision to change.
At some point, the people who are real leaders (whatever their position) demonstrate real courage by asking people who know them well for information about their behaviors and impact. They pursue specific feedback and listen carefully. This has to be a “no BS” zone or it isn’t worth the effort. Or they are blessed to have a relationship with a real leader who willingly provides specific behavioral information because they care about your success more than about hurting your feelings momentarily. Armed with good, clear, specific information, you can do something useful to examine and change behaviors.
You might well be the only person who has the courage and ability to help a direct report, a peer, or a boss with their blind spot. You can be the person in their life that makes a critical difference - - if you first Know Your Players, and then you act.