- What do you know about yourself that others also know? (OPEN)
- What don’t you know about yourself that others know? (BLIND SPOT)
- What do you know about yourself that others don’t know? (HIDDEN)
- What do you and others NOT know about you? (UNKNOWN)
(These “window panes” refer to a model, “The Johari Window”.)
What we’re talking about here is self-awareness. While many of us believe that we are very aware of our strengths and weaknesses (development opportunities), my work with leaders in executive coaching reveals that many leaders are shocked to learn what is common knowledge to their peers, direct reports and boss.
Some of the most common blind spots with senior leaders include:
- Lack of awareness regarding their interpersonal skills
- Tendency to take things personally
- Poor listening skills
- Tendency to dominate discussions
- Inappropriate reaction to conflict (either too aggressive or too passive)
- Results-at-all-costs mentality (little or no focus on the people-side of business)
- First of all, the simplest way is to ask for feedback. Just ask your peers, direct reports and your boss for candid feedback on what you do well and what you could do better to be most effective.
- Request a 360 assessment. This is where key people all around you (peers, boss, direct reports, possibly internal/external customers) provide feedback on your strengths and weaknesses. This works best when individual responses are anonymous and only themes are reported back. I often use both a written 360 survey as well as verbal 360 interviews.
- Take an inventory of feedback you’ve received over the past few years. Performance reviews, quarterly reviews and other informal sources of feedback will be helpful if you take time to analyze themes that emerge as you re-read the feedback.
The process can be liberating but also potentially painful. It reminds me of why some people put off getting an annual physical or dental checkup. Sometimes it easier to remain “blind” to potential danger zones than to address them and do something to change for the better.
After you’ve objectively reviewed the data and come up with two or three major themes, it’s time to create a development plan. This allows you to commit, in writing, your goals for improvement. Start with writing what you want to improve (a goal statement). Next be sure to list the benefits of achieving that goal and any risks involved with reaching it. What are potential obstacles that you might encounter in working towards the goal? How will you overcome those obstacles? What resources do you need? Whose help will be important? What are your action steps to make it happen? By when?
Share your development plan with your boss. Ask for suggestions and his/her support on your journey to success!
Contact us for more information on 360 feedback and working with an executive coach for identifying and overcoming blind spots.