What me? Blind spots?

blind spot“As a leader, first, work on yourself- increase your self-awareness. There shouldn’t be any other urgent agenda than this. Get enlightened! Know very well who you are including your strengths, weaknesses, and blindspots!”  – Assegid Habtewold

Do you know what your leadership blindspots are? We all have them. They are unseen weaknesses that unless managed, can negatively impact those we lead and can derail our best efforts. The trick about blindspots is that we are literally blind to them.

Robert Bruce Shaw in his book, Leadership Blindspots: How Successful Leaders Identify and Overcome the Weaknesses That Matter, describes the 20 most common blindspots he’s seen while working as an executive coach to hundreds of professionals. He’s found that unseen weaknesses arise in four areas: self, team, company and markets. Here’s what he has to say about common blindspots about self:

  • Overestimating your strategic capability – This blindspot can occur when leaders get promoted into higher levels of an organization where the focus is more strategic and less operational or transactional
  • Valuing being right over being effective  – This blindspot happens when a leader thinks she already knows the answer and is unwilling to listen to others
  • Failing to balance the what with the how – This blindspot is all about the end justifying the means; focusing on results to the detriment of your integrity, other people, or the process
  • Not seeing your impact on others – This blindspot occurs when you assume that all of your followers have the same goals, values, and communication style as you and fail to adapt your style others you lead
  • Believing the rules don’t apply to you – This blindspot occurs when a leader develops a sense of entitlement along with their power and authority
  • Thinking the present is the past – This blindspot is about not recognizing that new skills may be needed to succeed into the future–that what got you here may not get you to where you want to go next

What personal blindspots might you be vulnerable to? If you’re not sure, I’d encourage you to meet with a colleague to discuss these common blindspots. And if you’re really courageous, ask your colleague about any potential blindspots they see in you.

Anita Rios


6 responses to “What me? Blind spots?

  1. Beth Weatherby, Chancellor

    Anita, Dee Anne, and Todd: Just to let you know that, out here in Montana, I’m still reading and learning from your blog and sharing it with my new colleagues at the University of Montana Western. Thanks for your wisdom and leadership of leaders!



    • Beth, I’m so glad you are still finding the blog useful! It’s wonderful to hear from you. I’ve always appreciated your perspective. Please consider serving as a guest blogger for HigherEdge some time. We would love to hear about the successes you’ve experienced and any current leadership challenges you face in Montana.


      • Beth Weatherby, Chancellor

        Hi, Anita,
        Good to hear from you. This is such a interesting university. Lots to write about. How many words? Hope all’s well with you. Let me know if you’re coming out west.



    • Todd Thorsgaard

      Beth, what a wonderful note to receive! It is so good to hear from you. Your colleagues are lucky to have you! I second Anita’s comment about how valuable it would be for you to share your leadership insights as you have moved between systems.


  2. Hi, Beth. I’ll chime in too. I’d love to learn more about any leadership challenges that seem common across higher education as you’ve experienced different systems. Glad to hear things are going well.


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