Most leaders have blind spots. Uncovering these blind spots through feedback from peers and direct reports as well as building stronger self-awareness is important for leaders to understand exactly what may be holding them back.
Join Master Trainer Becky Carr as she discusses how these tools can be applied to form a great leadership development plan.
Identifying Leadership Blind Spots and Overuse Areas
Most leaders have blind spots. These are areas in which they are critical of themselves or where they are overly self-confident. There is a massive expectation for leaders to act and behave in a certain way, so when they are under pressure, blind spots can emerge. Uncovering these blind spots as well as building stronger self-awareness is essential for leaders to understand what might be holding them back.
Extended DISC Assessments and the FinxS Open 360 Feedback Review are two great tools for leaders to understand their unique strengths, development areas and those pesky overuse and blind spots!
We have all had an experience where a manager or a leader uses a particular natural trait they have far too often, and it starts to become a problem. You might relate to this situation. A team manager at a company had a spontaneous and informal leadership style. So much so that he was like a part of the group. The team leader was encouraging and was happy to chat at any time. In the beginning, his leadership style was effective, and his team loved him! However, after a few months some his behaviours started to irritate the team members. He was so chatty that he often interrupted people and talked for a long time, which meant the team struggled to refocus.
In pressure situations like impending deadlines or targets, he often became frantic and hectic. He forgot a lot of things as he did not write them down, he'd lose paperwork for meetings and just not come prepared. The leader wouldn't follow simple company processes to keep the workflow going. Scheduling seemed to go out the window, and internal meetings were spur-of-the-moment so the team could not prepare themselves. The group could not provide ideas and opinions into the decisions he was making. In these stressful situations, he became louder and spoke faster.
As a result, the group stopped trying to engage with him as much, which meant communication fell away. Productivity decreased, and mistakes started happening frequently. Other issues began to occur, including the loss of staff. One of the primary reasons is that they felt they could not respect him enough to work with him. Despite all these issues, the team leader seemed to be blissfully unaware of how his team perceived him. He seemed not to notice the problem! In fact, he seemed to think he was caring, enthusiastic and communicative with his employees. So, when people started to leave was genuinely hurt and became defensive as he felt he wasn't the one to blame. He thought he was incredibly people-focus. Was he? Yes, just far too much.
From the example above, you can probably guess his DISC Style - an I style under pressure. This is a prime example of overusing our natural style and being completely unaware.
Don't Let Strengths Become Weaknesses
It's common for us to overlook our natural strengths when looking at development. When it comes to developing and improving our performance, we tend to focus on our weak areas and things we struggle to do. A focus on weak areas is not a bad thing, especially if there is something that is hindering us and needs to be improved. The issue is that we don't always look or even acknowledge our strengths. We don't 'pat ourselves on the back' for things we do well.
Sometimes it's a lot easier to develop our strengths and natural abilities than it is to develop weakness. It takes a lot less focus, effort and practice than building up skills that don't come easily to us. What this means is because we do something well we often assume others can do the same thing well, so we don't see it as a strength that we have. Then we become frustrated with other people when they don't measure up to the same aspect. As we know from our knowledge of Extended DISC, this couldn't be further from the truth!
Many of the other styles do not share the same strengths and actually might not see the equal value in them either. So it's a real priority for us to remember the value in our unique strengths. Think of an I style that can go and chat to anyone and engage in light-hearted banter with people. Now think of a C style who might not want to go and interrupt people, let alone strangers. They are spending more time on getting tasks completed rather than working a room - it's just not their priority!
We all have strengths, and using our strengths is easy, it's in our comfort zone. Straying out of our comfort areas means modifying our behaviours, using energy to think, or having to expend more energy to push ourselves to do something. We tend to stay in our comfort zone, often because it's easy and motivates us. However, this can lead us to 'overuse' our strengths. If we aren't careful, this can cause problems.
When we overuse our strengths, we essentially become too much of ourselves. As a result, others around us are not going to respond well. If we are under pressure, fatigued, or experiencing stress, our behavioural overuse traits really do show through. In stress, we stop adapting our style, revert back to our natural DISC style and amplify what is easy and accessible, which of course, are our strengths! However, relying too much on our strengths can elicit strong reactions from others, and that's where this miscommunication and conflict can occur.
We don't just revert back to our strengths, we also exhibit the negative traits of our DISC style strengths. Most times, these are not the most appropriate behaviours to be used in the situation.
How to Avoid Overusing Strengths
There are things we can do to help minimise the overuse of our strengths, including:
- Being self-aware of our natural abilities.
- Learning how to make a conscious choice to modify our behaviour, especially under pressure.
- Knowledge is power! Learn your particular DISC style overuse areas.
- Be mindful!
What are Blind Spots?
Blind spots are the disconnect between how you view yourself and how others perceive you. When there is a gap between the two views that can cause miscommunication and hinder your interactions. We may even make assumptions that everyone operates the same way we do. Our DISC Styles and perceptions actually give us value filters to the behaviours we observe in others. As you know, they are all different. We value behaviours differently. The more self-awareness you build, through an Extended DISC Assessment or an Open 360 Feedback review, will help you understand how others see you. The more you know your blind spots, the more you can learn to modify yourself for the different types of people you lead. You have much more control over the interactions too.
DISC Styles and their Overuse Areas
The D Style
We typically describe a D style as decisive, strong, determined, competitive, demanding, independent, and self-confident. When they are overusing these natural tendencies, or under pressure, they can often become aggressive, blunt, controlling, intolerant and overbearing. For a D style interacting with others, this is not the most effective way to function. Others can be quite fearful of the outcome, and the communication flow can also stop.
The I Style
We describe an I style as sociable, talkative, open, enthusiastic, energetic and persuasive. However, when they are overusing their style, they can come across as frantic, careless, indiscreet, hasty and lose their sense of time.
The S Style
The S styles are calm, steady, careful, patient, good listeners, modest and trustworthy. When they are overusing their strengths, they can come across as resistant to new ideas, docile, plodding, stubborn, lose initiative and opposed to change.
The C Style
C styles are precise, they follow the rules, are logical, careful, formal and disciplined. However, if they are facing stress or under pressure, they can become withdrawn, cold, indecisive, become too fixated on details, come across as cold and suspicious.
Open 360 Feedback
The 360 review tool is another excellent way to build self-awareness. Leaders typically do not receive a lot of genuine feedback, and they commonly obtain constructive criticism when something has gone wrong. Without feedback, there is always a distinct possibility that they can invent their own perception of their performance. Which, in reality, might be incredibly different from others. Receiving useful and constructive feedback from an Open 360 review can provide vital information. The report lets us not only know how we are actually doing but also gives us a general direction for growth.
The purpose of an Open 360 is that is measures skills, competencies and behaviours of an individual. The review combines an individuals self-assessment with feedback from peers, managers and direct reports. Our online, cloud-based system then automatically generates an anonymous report.
The purpose of the 360 reports is to facilitate open and transparent dialogue with the leader on specific aspects. The report itself is divided into question, and respondent groups os it is easy to work through in a structured way.
Common Uses of 360 Feedback
- Performance appraisals
- Team development
- Feedback tool
- Identify training needs
- Improve communication
- Develop leaders and managers
- Skills development
Open 360 Blind Spot Report
The blind spot report helps consultants and business leaders to understand the difference in perspective of the respondent groups. The smart technology of our online platform takes the scores of the respondents and averages them out and compares it to the person's self-understanding.
The blind spots report uses an intuitive traffic-light reporting system to illustrate the blind spots. Perspectives that are misaligned are indicated in red. Which means there is a significant difference between the view of the respondent and the self. Consultants can easily pick out these blind spots and dig deeper to understand why there is a gap and what can be done about it.
It's important to note that green in the blind spot report does not necessarily indicate an absence of a development area. The green area demonstrates that all parties have the same perspective. Red and yellow indicate some discrepancy and red more so than yellow.
The combination of an Extended DISC report and an Open 360 Assessment provide leaders and consultants with an abundance of information. Such as, what is happening in the current environment, overuse areas, and blind spots. The tools also provide the 'why' of any conflict or areas of disagreement. These tools open up robust and healthy discussion around perspectives, overusing strengths and the 'why' or hard-wired behaviours, allowing us to hone in on blind spots and create a development path.