Successful managers recognize their blind spot

Laura is a good manager. She knows how to create a motivational atmosphere. Her employees are well informed and they get plenty of challenging work and feedback. But Laura has a blind spot: she can only see her employees through rose colored glasses. If she hired them, they can do no wrong. Unfortunately, no one else is quite so convinced. In fact, years after she left her last company, most of her former employees were still struggling to get ahead.

What's your blind spot? Don't think you have one? Don't be so sure. Most successful people are so accustomed to reaching their goals and making smart choices that they get lulled into thinking they see things clearly 100 percent of the time.

A blind spot is just that: a weak spot in ourselves that we just don't see. Like a piece of toilet paper stuck to your shoe, it seems everyone else sees it long before you do...and they struggle with how to tell you about it.

A classic case of a debilitating blind spot is a CEO I'll call Frank. Frank's two sons and one daughter are in his business with him. His number one son is the sales manager who loves to golf and take clients out to lunch more than he likes to sell. His number two son is the head of operations and a nice guy, but would probably be happier owning a bait and tackle shop. His daughter, on the other hand, is a bright businesswoman who is better suited to lead the company than either of her two siblings. Yet her father's blind spot is that he can't see his children's talents clearly. The oldest boy is supposed to succeed him, and girls don't run companies. Despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, he can't see his daughter in the role for which she's well suited.

For some people, their blind spot comes into focus when they realize they are constantly being surprised and disappointed by outcomes that don't match their expectations. Some people never see it.

Here are some examples of blind spots. They can stall your career, stifle the growth of your business and hurt the very people you're trying to help.

·        The CEO who believes he is smarter than everyone else in his former department and can't see that times and needs have changed.

·        The manager who treats his employees like best friends and can't see that some people are taking advantage of him.

·        The business owner who is convinced that all her employees are happy in their jobs and 100% loyal because they must love the business as much as she does.

·        The manager who thinks he's a good team builder because everyone treats him like the quarterback; they let him call all the plays.

·        The computer tech who thinks that better technology is the answer to all people and communication problems.

·        The store manager who can't believe her employees are stealing because they are so nice to her.

·        The family business owner who's locked into stereotypical thinking about the roles of his children.

Why not seek some feedback from people who know you well? Ask them what your blind spot is. And don't be convinced and content if they say, "You don't have one." Though it may be true, continue your quest for personal improvement. And if you find yourself becoming defensive about the feedback you hear, chances are they've hit close to the mark. Listen closely and check it out with more people who aren't afraid to tell you the truth.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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