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5 Leadership Blind Spots and How to Fix Them


July 27, 2016

By: Lori Sipe

A leader has a massive impact on a company’s culture. Even when employees are happy and goals are being met, it is the leader’s job to identify areas for improvement and strive for further success.

What many leaders often forget is that leadership starts with self-awareness. You can train others for skills and incentivize them for outcomes, but the only personality you can shape is your own. Before pointing out perceived weaknesses in others, you must step outside of your default mindset and seek a broader perspective. In doing so, you can minimize leadership “blind spots,” which author and leadership coach John C. Maxwell defines as areas in which people “continually do not see themselves or their situation realistically.”

Blind spots go unnoticed and unquestioned during the daily grind; we get so caught up in tasks that we become blind to assumptions that hinder or even negate our work. Here are five common leadership blind spots that might be holding your team back. Do any of these apply to you?

1. The Presumption That Everyone Understands

After providing instructions to your team, you move forward without stopping to ensure everyone is on the same page. While the natural instinct in a one-on-one setting might be to ask if everything is understood, a group changes the dynamic, particularly in a fast-paced industry like hospitality, where there is underlying urgency for everyone to get back to work.

2. An Insulated Perspective

It’s incredibly easy to become so involved in your role as a leader that all of your information comes from within arm’s reach. Every day, you read the same resources, communicate with the same people, and discuss the same topics. Meanwhile, the rest of the organization—and the world, for that matter—is left unexplored.

3. Impersonal Job Descriptions

In this day and age, most organizations have abandoned the dehumanizing, “churn and burn” approach to management. Still, the tendency is to think in terms of an employee’s job rather than their personality, passions, and strengths. You might assign them to a project simply because it fits their job description, while their true potential falls by the wayside.

4. Marginal Accountability

Accountability is not just a matter of avoiding “the blame game.” It is a pillar of a healthy culture that should be not only exemplified by a leader, but embraced by their entire team. Brian Hughes, Executive Director at the San Diego Tourism Marketing District, recently wrote a great piece about accountability right here on the HTM Master’s blog.

5. The Need to Know it All

As a leader, you feel the need to have an answer to every question, not realizing that it’s okay to be vulnerable and take a learning approach to your job. In fact, the best leaders are those who consider themselves lifelong students. Learning is a big part of leading innovation and change through tech-driven times.

Finding and Fixing Your Leadership Blind Spots

Did any of the above blind spots strike a chord with you? Finding your blind spots is a matter of self-evaluation. First, understand that leadership is a frame of mind and not just a job title. Then, make a conscious effort to:

  • Seek outside perspectives
  • Encourage idea sharing
  • Empower employees
  • Communicate goals clearly and often
  • Foster a culture of accountability

The Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM) Master’s Program at San Diego State University provides an immersive leadership experience offering direct access to esteemed organizations and leaders across the country. Whether you are looking to improve your leadership skills, advance in your current career, change careers, or expand your network, we will help you transform your life for the better and become a truly great leader.


Have questions about the SDSU HTM Master’s program? Don’t hesitate to contact us!

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