The value of feedback and understanding your blind spots
Feedback. Many people cringe at the word and some head for the proverbial hills. However, there is value in feedback that should be embraced and celebrated. Feedback can do one of two things, it can either reinforce our view of ourselves or it can reveal our blind spots. Blind spots are the spaces in our self-assessment that do not match how others view us. Just as there are blind spots when driving a car, there are blind spots when leading too. But just as you do when driving, you need to check those blind spots occasionally.
10 common blind spots:
- Going it alone and not asking for help
- Being insensitive of your behaviour on others
- Having an “I know” attitude
- Avoiding difficult conversations
- Blaming others or circumstances
- Treating commitments casually
- Conspiring against others
- Withholding emotional commitment
- Not taking a stand
- Tolerating “good enough”
Self-awareness is a crucial key to success in life and business. It is the foundation of emotional intelligence and the first step towards interpersonal competence. Experts have even identified it as one of the most important traits for leaders to develop and nurture. Yet self-awareness seems in short supply among leaders. Without self-awareness, we move through relationships and experiences disconnected. We are unaware of how others receive and perceive us. And we cannot take full responsibility for our thoughts and actions. Fortunately, we can increase our self-awareness with feedback to uncover our blind spots.
How to effectively receive feedback
Often staff won’t let on when a leader is behaving in a detrimental way, concerned with potential repercussions. Subsequently, leaders can go on, oblivious to their blind spots, and continue with behaviour that should either stop or change. Therefore, it is important to create an environment and a situation where staff can effectively give you feedback. Some ways you can do this include:
- Practice active listening
- Avoid arguing, just listen
- Practice a positive mindset
- Mind your body language
- Be reflective and conscious
- Establish measurable goals and benchmarks
- Apply and evaluate the feedback
Weaknesses can be intentionally strengthened with practice, time, or desire. Blind spots, however, are personal traits or aspects we don’t even know exist. We don’t like to hear about our faults and others don’t like to point them out. But by becoming aware of our own weaknesses, we can start the process of self-improvement and become better leaders.