Business Leadership Blind Spots: Are You Shooting Yourself in the Foot?

Guest Blog by Lance Cody-Valdez

Often, people fail to recognize their greatest strengths – as well as weaknesses – until someone else points them out. This applies to people in all stages of their self-awareness journey, including business leaders who have significant achievements under their belt. Only 10 to 15 percent of people are truly self-aware, says Training Mag, despite their beliefs to the contrary.


Do you have the CEO’s disease?

This self-awareness problem is especially prevalent among people with more power, such as managers, supervisors, and other business leaders. The “CEO’s Disease” makes it so that the higher up you climb, career-wise (or business-wise), the less likely you are to receive honest feedback about your leadership style, personality, or work performance. No one wants to jeopardize their career by offending you, essentially. But this is not a desirable state of affairs. A lack of self-awareness overlaps with the Dunning-Kruger effect. It invariably leads to trouble in your career and with other people. Broken teams, bad blood, failed targets, and poor performance are often the end result.


Are you, as a business leader, truly self-aware? Only you can answer that question. Regardless, growth is a constant process. There’s always more to learn, and even the most self-aware can have blind spots. Here, we offer some common de-railers that may be present in your leadership style. If you identify with a few, you can work on them to be a better-rounded leader.


1. Not Being Open to Learning

The truth can be a bitter pill to swallow, and people often ignore advice that’s good for them. This lack of coach-ability is a major problem for leaders. They may fail to hear or internalize advice. They may even block off feedback altogether and cling to outmoded ways of thinking or being. It can keep them stuck in leadership patterns that cause more problems than solve. Some ways to be open to learning are acknowledging you don’t know everything, encouraging feedback, and creating a culture of growth.


2. Lack of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is your ability to understand, use, and manage emotions constructively, both in yourself and in other people. When leaders lack emotional intelligence, they may refuse to acknowledge their own or other people’s emotions. It can make them come across as unfriendly, non-personable, stuffy, and even inhuman. Sometimes leaders feel but they’re not in charge of said feelings – they frequently lash out, yell, or behave erratically. It’s hard to work with someone like that, needless to say. Emotional intelligence can be built up. Some suggestions are acknowledging your feelings, paying attention to them, and taking responsibility for them.


3. Being Too Controlling

Micromanaging leaders are, arguably, the most feared and dreaded of them all. Numerous studies have proven why controlling your employees excessively is bad – both for them and you. It shows a lack of trust in your employees and their abilities. It can put huge pressure on teams and makes them fall apart. Leaders should, ideally, give guidance and structure, and enforce healthy rules and discipline – but also allow freedom. Mistakes should be learning opportunities. Control doesn’t engender loyalty, hurts employee performance, and often creates the results you dread the most. Good, cohesive teamwork requires trust between all members – and the management has to set the tone by offering trust first.


4. Failing to Set Expectations and Offer Direction

Leaders exist for a reason – they’re there to guide, direct, and steer. If you believe in the “leading from the front” leadership style, then they also demonstrate how things should be done through their personal example. Finally, good leaders also mentor other people and help them to grow. Frequently, leaders fail to perform their duties. They may not set clear expectations for employees, for instance, or offer feedback, which may cause employees to flounder. Employees may not have a clear idea of how they’re performing, and what’s expected of them. Some ways to direct are having a clear vision, communicating your goals, encouraging feedback, listening, and offering personalized mentoring.


5. Neglecting Administrative Details

Often, in the pursuit of ambitious, big-picture goals, leaders neglect minor administrative details and legal duties. This is especially the case with smaller businesses with fewer employees. Missing important details can cause serious setbacks to the business, which can result in compliance issues, irate customers, and unhappy employees. Looking after the minor details is a major responsibility. Some ways to manage administrative and legal details are to delegate more; use project-management and booking software; and, finally, utilize specialized external services.


Successful leaders aren’t afraid of admitting their shortcomings. More importantly they learn, continue to work on themselves, and rise beyond their weaknesses. By doing so, they become inspiring examples for other people, motivating them to do and be better. First Nature Foundation offers personalized coaching and assistance to help you become a more-effective leader.


A few years ago, burned out and miserable from his job in corporate marketing, Lance Cody-Valdez decided it was time to invest in himself. He quit his job the following day and used his meager savings to stay afloat as he built a career as a freelance writer and content marketer. He created free-lance-now.com to help others escape the 9 to 5 daily grind.