‘Why do our attempts to deal with the challenges of our time so often fail? Why are we stuck in so many quagmires today? The cause of our collective failure is that we are blind to the deeper dimension of leadership and transformational change. This “blind spot” exists not only in our collective leadership but also in our everyday social interactions. We are blind to the source dimension from which effective leadership and social action come into being.
We know a great deal about what leaders do and how they do it. But we know very little about the inner place, the source from which they operate. And it is this source that “Theory U” attempts to explore.’ (from THEORY U: LEADING FROM THE FUTURE AS IT EMERGES, Otto Scharmer MIT)
There are two types of blind spot: physiological (got to do with the retina in the eye) and the psychological blind spot (got to do with a mental non perception (often of something that may appear obvious to others)). There are a number of levels of psychological blind spot. The one mentioned in the above paragraph is at core or source level. Although extremely important and fundamental to our future development as leaders I’m not going to talk about that in this post.
At a more gross level I see business owners engage in behaviours that they are not often aware of. I think we all suffer from this.
I had an example recently in a Power of Seven group where a business owner told her group how surprised she was to hear feedback from two of her senior managers. They told her how her ‘blanking’ demoralises them sometimes. She wanted to know what on earth they were talking about. “How you literally ignore us when we challenge your decision making” they said.
She told her Po7 group how she believed they were making this up to try to undermine her confidence, and so she simply dismissed it as nonsense. However her Po7 group told her this wasn’t nonsense as they had experienced her doing it with them as well. Now hearing it from her peers was another thing, after all these peers have no agenda other than to benefit her. “Yes, I’ve experienced this myself only in our last meeting when I challenged you on your new marketing strategy” said Mark, “do you remember?” “Yea, I remember that but I wasn’t aware I blanked you Mark” she said. “That’s exactly it” said Mark, “you’re not aware of it, it’s one of your blind spots, we all have them”. She was flabbergasted that she, a person who cares deeply about her people could possibly blank anyone, then she wondered if she ever did it with her kids. “Why don’t you ask them” said Neil. “I’m not sure if I’d feel comfortable asking them” she said. “Why not?” asked Derek. “I guess I’d feel vulnerable” she said. “Exactly” said Derek, “we as leaders need to be and model vulnerability if we are to progress our leadership.
So as you can see getting feedback and being vulnerable to ask for it is critical to illuminating our blind spots.
Self awareness helps as well, I’ll write about that another day!
Love to hear any stories about how you illuminated your blind spots?