Written by: James C. Price
Regardless of experience, skill, or tenure, every leader has at least one area in their professional scope that tends to fly under the radar. These blind spots are areas in which people cannot plainly see what’s clearly occurring around them. Whether due to a focus on other priorities or simply a shortcoming that causes a lack of self-awareness, the larger the blind spot, the more damage that can be done within an organization. Examining your blind spots can be challenging; however, it also can be the key to building sustainable success, improving employee morale, and creating a culture of communication and accountability. Check out these common blind spots that leaders face and how to adjust your vision to fix it.
Blind Spot No. 1
Some leaders unknowingly practice an overbearing management style. This form of leadership boxes employees into an environment that is closed can hinder innovation and productivity. And during this past year when many businesses went remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this blind spot may have gotten worse for many leaders. Usually based in good intentions of wanting your company to be as productive as possible, micromanaging tends to have the exact opposite effect of what leaders intend. According to LinkedIn, micromanagement leads to decreased productivity, reduced innovation, lower morale, high staff turnover, and lack of trust.
How to Fix it
To ensure a productive work environment in an office or remote setting, employers must trust their teammates to do the work they were hired to accomplish. However, without oversight, this can be extremely difficult for a leader to take big strives in fixing this blind spot. To help both parties, consider scheduling a quick, weekly one-on-one meeting where employees go over the projects they’re working on. This is a great chance for the employee to feel empowered within their work and will provide you the opportunity to ask questions in a structured environment instead of hovering over them throughout the week.
Blind Spot No. 2
Effective communication is the lifeblood of any organization. It helps the vision spread effectively so goals can be achieved. While employees expect a clear message from leadership, often the message will never be correctly received due to a leader’s blind spot in communication. According to an Interact study, 69% of managers claim they are uncomfortable communicating with their staff, whereas 37% are uncomfortable giving direct feedback. It’s understandable that 91% of employees claim their leaders lack communication skills. Without knowing it, a leader’s personal struggle with communication can lead to not fostering open communication at all.
How to Fix It
To help create an environment of healthy and open communication, a leader must be intentional with opening up the lines of communication. Whether it’s encouraging an open-door policy, getting to know employees on a deeper level, or simply asking more questions, healthy communication can literally improve all aspects of your business, including engagement and retention. One other aspect of communication that is sometimes lost is not a leader’s lack of offering critical feedback, but rather the lack of giving praise and recognition. Consider creating an open environment of encouragement and appreciation when warranted.
Blind Spot No. 3
Lack of Delegation
One of the most costly blind spots a leader can have is lack of delegation. Hard work and determination are virtues that have helped millions of everyday people to rise up and become leaders and entrepreneurs. However, those virtues that have helped them get to where they are today can also be a cause of burnout and lack of professional growth for both the leader and the employee. According to a study by Xero, 77% of small business feel the effects of burnout. In fact, 86% of small business owners work on the weekends. This is often due to a lack of delegation, which can lead to success plateauing or even digressing.
How to Fix It
To avoid burnout, leaders must relinquish work to their employees and create a culture of autonomy that allows talented workers to not only take tasks off their leader’s plate, but also take the stress of oversight off their list. According to an infographic by ScaleTime, “CEOs who delegate have been shown to generate 33% more revenue than CEOs with low delegation skills.” Not only does delegating raise revenue and empower employees, it gives leaders more margin to tackle new projects and goals. Begin by making a list of your smaller projects and tasks and determine which ones you can divvy up between your employees. Next, start looking at larger projects and initiatives and determine if you have an employee who would be willing to be trained and developed to take over one of these aspects of your business.
Blind Spots Don’t Have to Remain Blind
These are three examples of common blind spots leaders have; however, there is a multitude of issues that leaders face. And while you may be aware of one of your blind spots, the only way to truly become aware of your growth opportunities is to ask your employees, peers, and leaders. Anonymous questionnaires are a great way to do this to ensure truthful feedback. These audits, known as 360 feedback surveys, allow reviews from all levels within an organization and are great ways to learn your blind spots. Once you reveal your blind spots, you’re one step closer to fixing them.