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Often faced with chaos and difficult decisions, leaders tend to focus on what’s in front of them. Elva Ainsworth explores the value of deploying a ‘rear-view’ mirror to see where they might be missing something.
When we drive, we obviously need to look at where we are going. We need mirrors to see behind us and then we still need to turn our heads to see what is in our blind spot.
The principle is the same for business leaders. You will generally be looking at what is in front of you – the staff, the business, the problems and the inbox.
You may occasionally get some feedback on stuff you have missed but even so, you still need to actively turn and look from time to time to check how you are doing. So how can we keep an eye on the blind spots in order to drive safely and lead responsibly?
There is a blind spot where the optic nerve enters the retina. This spot is insensitive to light so nothing can be seen at this particular point.
The interesting thing is that our brain fills in the gap automatically. So in our vision we have a blind spot all the time but it appears that we don’t.
It is only when we really need an all-round view that this missing spot becomes critical. By 1978, for instance, it was clear that safe driving required help and it became mandatory for a car to have two wing mirrors.
Leaders’ blind spots can often be seen as the cause of many business issues.
The leadership blind spot is the specific area of style, personality, energy or behaviour which is currently “unseen” - where there is a persistent lack of insight or awareness.
As with vision, the unseen is not necessarily obvious as it feels like we know how things are going pretty well most of th