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Blind Spots

The most common blind spot is believing others have them, but you don’t.

– Unknown

“The presence of emotional self-awareness and social intelligence competencies have been empirically linked to increased leadership performance” according to Matthew Lippincott as part of a University of Pennsylvania leader mindfulness study involving 42 participants from 11 countries.

Study participants linked improved emotional self-awareness to positive changes, including:

  • 100 percent reported a significant improvement in workplace effectiveness.

  • 79 percent mentioned more effective workplace relationships.

  • 81 percent linked improved emotional self-awareness to a reduction in stress.

The challenge? The paradox of self-awareness is that we cannot accurately see ourselves the way other people see us. Our best intentions in relational behaviors often aren’t received as we intend…and we are oblivious to that fact.

Over the years I’ve seen many self-proclaimed, self-aware clients suffer the impact of blind spots. In one case a Managing Director of a major financial firm used astute analytical skills to dig relentlessly into issues. Unfortunately, his interrogation style intimidated and alienated peers and direct reports, thereby earning him a negative reputation which caused him to be bypassed for a plum Division President role.

Another example is the pharma corporate officer who while caring, respectful and expertly qualified, would lose influence with people because he spoke in monologue style. Simply stated, he talked far too much. He was blind to the fact that his approach caused people to tune out, thereby missing the key points he wanted to make. His monologue style also sent a message that he wasn’t interested in others or in what others have to say. His direct reports had no choice but to endure the process; his peers learned to avoid interaction whenever possible.

One client hindered by blind spots was an executive manager in a heavy manufacturing industry who sometimes made inappropriate comments that reflected a lack of empathy or decorum and thereby demonstrating a lack of respect for others. Often her comments were interpreted as inappropriate or rude. Blind to the negative impact, her position as a positive role model was diminished in the organization.

In the above instances we see qualified, committed individuals suffer blind spots that hindered their effectiveness and negatively impacted career opportunities. Fortunately, with help, each was able to identify, address and overcome blind spot hinderances.

Several effective means to identify blind spots that can derail your career performance:

  1. Request feedback from trusted colleagues, family and friends. People who care about you are a safe place to turn for input. Be aware that they sometimes don’t want to offend, and some may find it difficult to tell you exactly what you need to hear.

  2. Engage an executive coach. Coaches can help you confrim your strengths and identify developmental areas. Coaches will tell you the truth as seen by others, and do so in a positive, constructive manner. Typically, executive coaching engagements span three to 12 months, depending on the goals of the engagement.

  3. A simple and cost-effective on-line instrument that reveals hidden strengths, as well as blind spots, is the PRO Development™ instrument. PRO-D™ is the only instrument that converges a person’s motivations, abilities and personality to render a holistic view of the individual, and it does so in the context of the individual’s current environment.

Blind spots get in the way of higher leadership performance. Do you have a blind spot? Ask a trusted colleague or check out the PRO Development™ assessment at for a validated, economical, comprehensive look at yourself.

- Davis H. Taylor, TAI Incorporated,


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