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How To Uncover Your Blind Spots

Written by: Marisa Murray, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 
Executive Contributor Marisa Murray

Have you ever seen the aftermath of a sinkhole? It’s devastating. But the most terrifying part is knowing how unstoppable they are, how no one sees them coming because they occur underneath the surface.


Blindfolded woman walking through lightbulbs searching

Your blind spots can feel similar. They are there under the surface—out of sight, out of mind. But left unchecked, they become giant sinkholes in your life—damaging relationships, careers, and even entire businesses.


Often, we feel like they are out of our control. Because we can’t see our blind spots, we can’t do anything about them, right?


Wrong.


Unlike a spontaneous sinkhole, your blind spots—and the ones in your organization—have signs. So if you know which signs to look for, you can still take action to fix them before they wreak irreparable damage. As you make your way through your career and your life, your blind spots will reveal themselves to you—usually when you get curious because you have bumped into a new barrier. 


So how do you find the thing you don’t see? How do you uncover your blind spots?

 

Become a blind-spotting leader


First and foremost, you need to recognize blind spots are never just an individual’s issue—they’re a culture issue. Great leaders create a culture of curiosity and humility which recognizes the process of uncovering blind spots as a core piece of professional development. 


Throughout your career, blind spots will continue to appear. They aren’t stagnant. They morph, mutate, and disguise themselves in new ways. At first they might even be perceived as a strength, but unless you discover the shadow cast by your strength, you will inevitably bump into an invisible barrier.


So as a leader, you have to set the tone. You have to be willing to look at your own blind spots and ask others to help you uncover them. When you foster a culture of openness around uncovering your unknown weaknesses, it creates safety and curiosity for others to uncover theirs too.

 

Changing lanes


Second, blind spots have a way of rearing their heads around change. This is when they can be the most visible, but it’s also when they can inflict the greatest damage.


Think about it like this: When you learn how to drive, they don’t teach you to check your blind spots after a collision, right? No, because then it’s already too late. Instead, you’re taught to check your blind spots when contemplating a turn or changing lanes. 


Change often triggers blind spots—for better or worse. Change in a job role. Change of organization. Change in the economy, corporate structure, or mission. All are opportunities to either spot blind spots to safely navigate the change—or ignore them and invite a collision.


That’s why it’s so important to make this kind of authenticity and vulnerability the norm. When team members prepare for a new role or put their name in the hat for the next promotion, why not provide them with the tools to check in on both their self-awareness and others-awareness? 


When checking your blind spots becomes the norm, when it’s encouraged and practiced before anyone makes their next move, then everyone has the opportunity to share constructive feedback, learn from one another, and grow stronger relationships. This, in turn, creates a stronger organization that becomes more flexible and adaptable because people acquire the skills to change lanes without collisions. 


Discover your impact


Guess what? The information you need to uncover blind spots is already available to you. The only problem is that it lives in other people’s minds, which means you have to go get it. There will be clues, however, in feedback you have already received from them. Since blind spots live in the gap between your intentions and your impact, the form this feedback must come in is that of impact statements.


Ask the people who experience your work and actions firsthand to share about the impact you are having on them. Set the example by keeping an open mind and fearlessly collecting first-person feedback. I encourage my coaching clients to treat feedback collection like a scientist treats data. The best way to get feedback is to do so directly.


This is the key distinction between impact statements and average feedback. Feedback is often full of advice and preferences of the other party, including how they think their colleague should behave. It can easily become vague and be more philosophical than practical. 


Meanwhile, impact statements provide defined observations and examples from witnesses on their colleague’s positive and negative effects. This approach allows the stakeholders to express how my client affects them. In my coaching work, I ask stakeholders to back their statements up with as many specific examples as possible. 


This can feel scary at first, but knowing where the feedback comes from is just as important—and sometimes more important—than knowing the information within the feedback.


So start with your key stakeholders—the individuals most affected by your intentions and actions. But remember, they can only share your impact on them. They may not be able to exactly define your blind spot, but they can sense its presence.


The six steps


Collecting impact statements is the most effective way I have found to kick off my six-step coaching process: 


  1. Collect impact statements from key stakeholders.

  2. Discern key opportunity areas to improve the client’s impact.

  3. Explore intention with my client to understand the gap.

  4. Identify the blind spots hiding in the gap that are causing the unintended results/damage. 

  5. With new awareness of these blind spots, consciously modify and experiment with applying their strengths and learning new behaviours which better align intention with impact. 

  6. Monitor what works best for the client and their stakeholders, and repeat the modified behaviour until it is fully embedded in their leadership style.

 

By the end of step six, you’ve not only uncovered the blind spot—or spots—but the brain itself has been rewired, leading to new outcomes and transformation.


Suffice it to say, my clients who undergo this process are incredibly brave. Not just the executives I am coaching but also the stakeholders. When both are courageous enough to face the unknown, everyone ends up winning.


Blind spots don’t have to turn into sinkholes. If you are willing to dig underneath the surface, you can find the problem and address it before the worst damage is done. Digging is tough work, though, which is why most people would rather to remain blind to their blind spots, despite knowing the potential consequences.


In my book Blind Spots: How Great Leaders Uncover Problems and Unleash Performance, I share additional insights into the process of not only uncovering your blind spots, but more importantly, how to fix them. Grab a copy to explore this issue further—or reach out to continue the conversation.


P.S. Want to gain invaluable insights into your blind spots right now? That’s why we built www.feedbackfriend.ai. Get the feedback you need for free today!

 

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube, or visit my website for more info!


Marisa Murray Brainz Magazine
 

Marisa Murray, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Marisa Murray is a leadership expert and executive coach with three Amazon best-sellers: Work Smart, Iterate!, and Blind Spots. She is CEO of Leaderley International and a TEDx speaker, dedicated to helping individuals and teams achieve superior performance. Her epiphany that "Blind Spots are the Key to Breakthroughs" inspired the creation of FeedbackFriend.ai, an AI-powered tool democratizing feedback access. Recognized by Manage HR magazine in the Top 10 Emerging Executive Coaching Companies for 2023, Leaderley serves clientele from the upper echelons of Fortune 500 companies. Through Marisa's writing, coaching, speaking, or 360s—her mission is to cultivate leaders that accelerate positive change.


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