Welcome to The Key: the monthly letter to leaders. In this Key we focus on the Leader’s Blind Spot and what you can do about it. This awareness helps you and the people around you proceed more safely, collaborate better, grow and succeed. We’ll be glad to hear from you with your comments, as well as your strategic, leadership development and coaching needs. Our passion is to help leaders realize greatness.
The Leader’s Blind Spot
What is every leader’s blind spot?
Think of all the people who look up to you — people in your family, your organization, in the community. They often follow your example and look to you for leadership. What is the basis for their trust? What gives them confidence to follow you?
The answer is: They look to see how you are living your life, how you are managing, and how you are leading. And who is the first person you lead? You lead yourself.
A leader’s main blind spot is failing to recognize that the first person you lead is you. People are ready to follow you because you appear to be leading yourself well. When you trust yourself to take the next step, they in turn trust you and are ready to take this step with you.
What do leaders do?
The first principle of leadership is self-leadership. And the first step of leading oneself is self-awareness. When people look up to you, they look for the following:
- Do you know your abilities and strengths and will you recognize theirs?
- Do you love to learn and will they learn new things when they are with you?
- Do you enjoy what you do and will they enjoy collaborating with you?
- Do you listen attentively and engage fully and will they have a chance to be fully engaged when they are on your team?
- Do you stay clear, calm and centered when faced with ambiguity and uncertainty and will you help them stay clear and centered?
- Do you solve problems, take action and get results and will they have a chance to take action and get results when they are with you?
- Are you growing and evolving as a leader and a human being and will they have an opportunity themselves to grow around you?
- Do you stay fresh and vital and bring new ideas and energy and will their experience with you be stimulating and energizing?
- Do you turn setbacks and challenges into growth opportunities and will you help them turn their challenges into stepping stones for their personal growth?
- Are you appreciative and grateful for what you have and what you are doing and will they be able to feel grateful and appreciative when they are with you?
People around you quickly sense that you are listening to your own conscience and following your inner compass and that they will be allowed to respond to theirs. They look to see that you are committed to your goals and objectives and that they will be better able to achieve theirs with you.
Take stock of your own self-leadership. Do you follow your own advice? Do you practice what you preach?
The road less traveled
In one of our recent executive retreats we had a stories circle. This is one of the learning tools we use to access the knowledge and wisdom in the group. The theme of that particular stories circle was – the road less traveled. I asked the managers to each share a story about a situation when they had taken the road less traveled: Made a tough decision or followed an unpopular course of action because it was the right thing to do. There were many powerful stories with a teaching message. One of these recurring messages was: The road less traveled is choosing to walk your own talk and to practice what you preach.
To overcome the leader’s blind spot you must recognize that you are the first person on your own team. Emotions are contagious: If you bring reservations, resistances and resentments you propagate these feelings around you. You are the first person to hear and listen to what you say and the first to know you can be trusted.
Here are some simple actions to re-energize your self-leadership so that you and the people around you can proceed safely, grow and succeed:
- Stay focused on what matters most.
- Act in accordance with your values.
- Exercise to stay energized.
- Make the right food choices and note how it impacts your energy.
- Take a 20 min break: Go for a walk, enjoy a chat or have a powernap.
- Reflect on your short term goals and long term aims.
- Learn something new this week.
- Listen to your inner guidance system – your intuition and conscience.
- Count your blessings.
- Enjoy what you do.
People feel it when you lead yourself from the inside out. They want to join in to find their own self-leadership. They respond to your congruency and it inspires them to be congruent in their actions. They will see good things happen where you are and want to be a part of it.
Now it’s your turn. Turn the key!
© Aviv Shahar