As a business leader, do you know if your leadership style has blind spots? At work, to accomplish what needs to get done in a timely manner and to hit established deadlines, employees and leaders create policies and procedures that can be consistently followed. The ways we do things become habits, and we become comfortable following the day-to-day routines, thinking that such routines are the best operating practices for us. These habits become comfortable like a well-worn pair of shoes. But it is important to examine the effectiveness of these work patterns to see if holes have developed in our well-worn shoes over time.
Leaders may claim that they like these well-worn shoes, but maybe the leaders are actually missing the perspective because of blind spots. If leaders embrace ways to vary their perspectives and objectivity in reviewing work operations, they may find that the old habits, outdated polices, and convoluted procedures are now producing lower quality work or are no longer allowing their employees to effectively serve their clients in an efficient manner.
Leaders may ask for opinions, but may not like disagreeing points of view. Beware of only listening to people with your same perspective. No healthy improvement can take place without observing situations from varying vantage points. Allowing for differing perspectives can breathe fresh life into stale habits and outdated strategies. If a leadership style promotes only listening to one perspective, the company can succumb to group think. Group think is a concept that was identified by social psychologist, Irving Janis in 1972.
Organizations affected by group think ignore alternatives to handling situations and tend to rationalize doing things the way the group has all bought into. Organization members with similar training or backgrounds and organizations that insulate themselves from outside opinions are vulnerable to this phenomenon. Leaders must be aware that without reviewing policies and procedures, checking habits and attitudes can lead to this dangerous way of thinking. It shuts out any hope for improvement and locks the organization into handling things in the same way even when these procedures are outmoded and possibly archaic. This is a type of blind spot.
How Can Blind Spots be Eliminated?
Try swapping a job with a fellow employee for a day and assess what you find. Are there easier ways of handing the job? More efficient ways of completing tasks? Ways to avoid confusion with fellow employees or with the clients you serve?
Talk with individuals who operate business organizations with approximately the same number of employees or serving the same customer base. Have peer to peer conversations with these professionals or visit their facilities to notice if there are ways their employees are operating that open blind spots that you had not considered.
Hire a business consultant to review your policies and procedures to notice if there are alternatives you had not considered. Outside perspectives from others can lead to business improvements because they notice the blind spots that you can’t see.
A business thrives on continuous improvement and allowing blind spots to distort your perspective can be costly to your company’s survival.