Of all the skills an executive needs to successfully lead, self-awareness ranks near the top. Without self-awareness we move through experiences and relationships disconnected and unaware of how others perceive us. This can create blind spots.
Conventional wisdom leads us to believe that leaders with the most experience and seniority are the most self-aware. Surprisingly, the opposite is true.
As people rise through an organization, at a certain point, self-awareness and emotional intelligence decline. Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, reported that “EQ scores climb with titles from the bottom of the corporate ladder upward toward middle management. Middle managers stand out with the highest EQ scores in the workplace because companies tend to promote people into these positions who are levelheaded and good with people.”
Beyond middle management, there is a noticeable difference in attitude: “For the titles of director and above, scores descend faster than a snowboarder on a black diamond. CEOs, on average, have the lowest EQ scores in the workplace,” he shared.
Blind spots can be the Achilles heel of leaders. We may not realize how they limit our effectiveness.
Frequent leadership blind spots are:
- Being insensitive to the effect of your behavior on others
- Having an “I know” attitude, refusing to seek input
- Avoiding difficult conversations
- Blaming others or circumstances
- Not taking a stand
Gaining clarity about our blind spots can lead to growth, learning and performance improvement.
- Surround yourself with diverse thinkers with the intention of learning from them
- Examine your past to identify patterns
- Solicit feedback. Ask “What is the one blind spot I should be more aware of?”
- Identify triggers – situations that cause you to impulsively or instinctively react without thinking. In his bestselling book, “Triggers,” leadership expert Marshall Goldsmith explains that every waking moment is filled with people, events, and circumstances that have the power to shape how we act or react. When we master our triggers, we master our responses and make them work for us, rather than against us
For every blind spot, there is the potential of a strength, increased self-awareness and the opportunity for growth.
The road is easier together,