4 Quick Ways To Uncover Your Leadership Blind Spots

by | Career Growth

While focusing on your strengths can build your confidence as a leader, you must also dedicate time and energy to uncovering your blind spots.

For starters, great leaders are self-aware and open to feedback, even when it’s about their growth opportunities. Plus, if you manage people, you want to model what it looks like to display a healthy dose of humility and a willingness to work on your growth areas without taking feedback personally.

Moreover, if you’re looking for a new job, you must be ready to answer interview questions like, “What is your biggest weakness?”

But how exactly do you identify your blind spots as a leader? The following are four strategies to learn more about yourself and uncover potential leadership blind spots.

4 Ways To Find Your Blind Spots As A Leader

1. Revisit performance evaluations and other sources of formal feedback.

An often-forgotten strategy when engaging in contemplation is reviewing performance evaluations you’ve received over the years.

Although not every company engages in a formal performance management and evaluation process, those that do often provide you with ‘areas for improvement’ that can support and accelerate your personal growth.

While you’re at it, revisit your LinkedIn testimonials, letters of recommendation, and any other resources that gave you additional feedback from managers, colleagues, or clients.

Important: Take special note of what people DON’T say about you. If there’s an attribute you aspire to have, yet have never received positive affirmations on it, this might be a growth opportunity.

[Read: Placed On A Performance Improvement Plan At Work? What You Need To Know]

2. Conduct a 360-degree review to gain additional perspective.

Another frequently missed opportunity for feedback is 360-degree evaluations, or 360s.

Importantly, leadership 360s don’t always have to be formally administered by your organization or a coach. Instead, you can easily self-administer with a mini (self-facilitated) 360 where you ask questions such as, “What’s my biggest area of opportunity as a leader?”

If your 360 returns vague results, you can reengage your respondents and ask more targeted questions, such as, “What’s my biggest growth opportunity as a public speaker?” and “How can I run better meetings?”

3. Complete an assessment or personality inventory.

Along the same lines, you can also harness the power of assessments to uncover potential leadership opportunities.

The Enneagram, Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), and similar tests and personality inventories will provide insights as to common blind spots and developmental areas for people with your same type.

For example, according to Integrative Enneagram Solutions, some potential blind spots among those who lead with a Type 1 – Strict Perfectionist on the Enneagram, include:

  • Coming off as critical or impatient when attempting to be constructive.
  • A lack of awareness of how they show annoyance, frustration, and resentment in their body language.
  • Difficulty accepting other valid perspectives when they feel righteous about an issue.

Although you want to apply a critical lens to any blind spots discovered in a leadership assessment or personality inventory, these resources can help you better understand yourself and provide a jumping-off point for deeper exploration.

4. Engage in self-exploration and personal reflection.

Speaking of which, self-exploration and personal reflection are invaluable leadership development tools. As an executive coach, journaling is a tool I often recommend to clients looking to learn more about themselves.

Journaling is a powerful container in which to sit with yourself, observe your thoughts and feelings, and decide what you want to do with them.

As you journal, don’t feel limited to only written words; you can doodle, draw, get creative, and see what emerges as you reflect on yourself and your leadership attributes.

Questions For Uncovering Your Leadership Blind Spots

Now, what do you ask to discover your growth opportunities? Here are some initial questions that might support you in uncovering your leadership blind spots:

  • What are the dark sides of your strengths? In other words, how might you lean too heavily on them?
  • What types of situations and people do you tend to avoid?
  • When and where are you most resistant to change?

You might also ask, “By achieving this, who in your life would you be less similar to?”

Although I learned of this question from Kim Leischner, MCC, MNLP of Kim Leischner Coaching while completing her Systemic Constellations in Coaching course, I felt it could also be applied to the feedback process.

According to her, “We all have a range of unconscious loyalties to the systems we have been a part of in the past. This can include our family system, previous relationships, previous teams, community, companies, etc.”

She argues that “Our unconscious efforts to honor the belonging and connection to those earlier systems can hinder our healthy movement into new and current situations.”

With regard to the similarity question above, Leischner says, “I find this question both useful and fascinating as it often sheds light on an unconscious pattern that is being perpetuated in an unconscious attempt to belong. Once we become conscious of such dynamics, it is possible to both honor the past and move forward with a greater sense of purpose and intention.”

Examples Of Leadership Blind Spots

Because I’m an executive coach, I often partner with leaders in identifying and articulating their blind spots. While merely a starting point for your own introspection, it can also be helpful to examine some examples of common leadership blind spots, such as:

  • Failing to build trust with your manager, colleagues, and other key stakeholders.
  • Focusing too much on the present without making space in which to prepare for future business needs.
  • Being afraid to get into the weeds, or refusing to get into the weeds when necessary.
  • Micromanaging, struggling to delegate, and failing to empower employees to make decisions.
  • Avoiding difficult conversations and decisions.
  • Becoming addicted to work and not learning how to successfully leave work at work.
  • Selling yourself short even when you should be tooting your own horn.

Thankfully, all these attributes can be addressed and worked upon, if you’re ready for the challenge.

Final Thoughts On Identifying Your Leadership Blind Spots

Identifying your blind spots is only the first step in becoming a better leader. Next, you must decide if — and how — you want to overcome them:

  • Which leadership blind spot will you work on first?
  • What action steps will you take to reduce the blind spot?
  • How might you leverage your strengths to support you along the way?
  • How will you measure your success?
  • Who will hold you accountable for reaching your goal?

Please be patient with yourself, since change and transformation take time, energy, and effort. And don’t hesitate to contact me or schedule a consultation if you’d like to discuss having a partner by your side as you do this work. I’m here for you! You’ve got this!

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

Dr. Kyle Elliott is the founder and career coach behind CaffeinatedKyle.com. His expertise is in Silicon Valley and high-tech. As a result of working with Dr. Elliott, senior managers and executives have landed jobs at Meta, Amazon, Google, and nearly every other tech giant you can imagine.

A trusted career expert, Dr. Elliott’s words have been featured on Business Insider, CNBC, CNN, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Fortune, Harvard Business Review, and The New York Times, among dozens of other leading publications. He has been recognized as a Best Career & Interview Coach, Best Resume Writer for Silicon Valley/Tech Managers & Executives, and LinkedIn Top Voice (the platform’s highest honor).

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