November 15, 2016
In my last blog post I discussed what a 360-degree assessment is and I used the analogy of mirrors in stores that would help us see what was around the corner, behind us, or oncoming in order to help us determine our next course of action. Similarly, we have mirrors on each side of our cars, and if adjusted correctly, will illuminate what is in our blindspot so we do not have to turn completely around while driving.
In the context of leadership, a blindspot is viewed as an unrecognized weakness or threat to the success of the leader. Basically, I understand this to mean it is our lack of self-awareness, but not only of our weaknesses, but also of our strengths since the lack of recognizing either of these hinders our personal success as leaders. In essence, the value of the 360 is to highlight our blindspot.
There are six specific items that my 360 survey results identified as my blindspots. This was identified in the scoring wherein the average score for each item was significantly (i.e. 1.5 points) above or below what I scored them. Specifically, three of them showed that the average response is HIGHER than the self response, and three items showed the average response is LESS THAN the self response. In the first case, where I scored myself lower than the average of my teammate’s responses, the items include the following:
- Speaks with genuine conviction about the higher meaning and purpose of our work.
- Paints the “big picture” of what we aspire to accomplish.
- Searches outside the formal boundaries of his/her organization for innovative ways to improve what we do.
My lack of awareness (i.e. blindspot) is that my teammates think I do each of these things significantly better than what I rated myself in doing these things. This is great insight for me since I want to excel and magnify each of these so that I don’t become complacent or stagnant in these areas that my teammates see as my strengths.
Other areas in which I had a lack of awareness in or rather more of a misconception are areas in which I thought I was fairly good yet, on average, my teammates did not think the same. Although I still scored fairly high, the blindspot clearly exists. These items include:
- Asks “what can we learn?” when things don’t go as expected.
- Is clear about his/her philosophy of leadership.
- Experiments and takes risks, even when there is a chance of failure.
So what do I do with this information? I have decided to focus on a personal action plan by returning to the Multipliers experiments that Liz Wiseman challenged us in her recent talk at the Command. I have chosen the ones to focus on and tailored them to address these blindspot(s):
- Ask more Questions, and when appropriate, ask lessons learned questions.
- Name the Genius, identifying what the people on your team do easily and freely to better utilize their native genius.
- Create Space for Mistakes, ensuring there is space for us to take responsible risks as well as recover from mistakes.
I challenge you to seek your own blindspot(s). It does not have to be through a formal survey. You may develop your own 360 tool or use your “personal board of trustees” to provide feedback on areas that you thought were your strengths and/or weaknesses. Once your blindspot(s) has been identified and revealed, challenge yourself and create an action plan. Write it down and commit to following through with it. Finally, share it with your teammates and allow them to hold you accountable to your stated commitment.
My 360 results have helped increase my self-awareness, identifying the blindspots which I can now see through the eyes of my teammates. Through this mirror, I am able to view my weaknesses and the areas that I can magnify to even greater heights. As leaders, we should continue to seek opportunities to be open to critical and constructive feedback from our teammates so that we may develop peripheral vision. We should ensure our blindspots vanquish once we become aware of them and create an action plan. Further, they dissipate because we have committed to learning and growing from this feedback so that we develop mechanisms in which our blindspots do not reappear in new circumstances or get replaced by new ones. As leaders, we should remain deliberately alert, develop and use our peripheral vision, and know exactly where to point our mirrors as we continue to grow and learn about ourselves.