It’s common knowledge that we all have blind spots. Like my favorite mentor said, “When it comes to your own behavior, all of a sudden you have the worst seat in the house.”
The stakes are very high with CEO blind spots, because the weaknesses of the leader become the weaknesses of the organization. If you can’t see it, how can you manage it to your advantage?
Below are the top 5 CEO blind spots that I’ve seen in over two decades of consulting with CEO’s. Note that they’re all basically permutations of leveraging relationships for sustained financial success (with yourself, with your team mates, with customers).
- Mistaking wealth for happiness. We all get it; your job is to make money or achieve some other mission that requires money. In the big picture, however, does it really make sense to ruin your happiness over making money? You can have both, but it requires some planning. Avoid the common CEO career trap of work too hard, ruin your health and relationships, realize that money can’t buy happiness, and be left with many regrets.
- Not taking responsibility. If you’re the top decision maker in an organization, then you’re accountable for its success or failure. You become the exemplar for the goals and values of the organization. Make sure what you say and what you do are the same, and resist any temptation to blame employees, customers, or market conditions.
- Thinking you’re hearing the truth. You have more power than everyone else in the organization. Furthermore, you control their very livelihood. Therefore, they have every reason to lie to you. Imagine a strategic planning meeting in which a leadership team creates a plan based on faulty data; i.e., lies. Guess how that works out.
- Undervaluing relationships. Relationships are the secret sauce to sustained financial success or mission achievement. You need people to do the work, and you need people to buy the product or service. Even an online transaction requires the briefest of relationships. You can’t have too much wisdom about how people work; i.e., emotional intelligence.
- Setting unrealistic goals. “Stretch” goals have become very popular and are thought to motivate employees. While it’s a matter of degree, the problem with this approach is that the goals are seldom achieved and employees get discouraged and stop taking them seriously. Setting achievable goals works better because people feel like they’re winning and feel more confident to take on goals that are more challenging.
- Solicit feedback regularly so you’ll be aware of your blind spots.
- Address your blind spots through acquiring new skills, delegating, or creating structured processes that bring these things to your attention regularly.
- Make sure your team gets regular feedback and opportunities to address their blind spots too.