School Business Affairs September 2019

36 SEPTEMBER 2019 | SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS management briefcase It’s important to acknowledge some weaknesses in our leadership. Conquering Your Blind Spots By Nan Wodarz, Ed.D. T he observation “Perception is in the eye of the beholder” reminds us that regardless of our education, our background, or our communi- cation skills, sometimes others perceive us very differently than we perceive ourselves. For example, you give your team detailed instructions for completing a project, believ- ing that you are being helpful. Unfortu- nately, the team interprets the gesture as a lack of confidence in the team’s abilities. This juxtaposition of perceptions can neg- atively affect our ability to lead effectively. We assume that others view us as we view ourselves. These disabling blind spots are rooted in a lack of self-awareness. In her book Fearless Leadership , Loretta Malandro identifies 10 behavior blind spots that can derail leaders. Going it alone. Some leaders take the concept of leadership into a different realm, assuming such total charge that they exclude others from decisions, believing they can do things better on their own. This mind- set isolates them from their team and can result in a resentful team with diminished production. Being insensitive to others. Our human nature is to view our behaviors through our own lens of reality. However, by doing so, leaders might not realize how their words and actions affect others. Exam- ples include failing to realize the message their body language sends, choosing words that are hurtful or distressing, and ignoring how their actions might devalue others. Having a “know-it-all” attitude. We all know leaders with this blind spot. The don’t listen to others, argue with anyone who disagrees, refuse to explore options other than their own, and make assump- tions about others intentions or ideas. Avoiding difficult conversa- tions. Most people try to avoid conflict and difficult situations. However, avoiding confrontations or failing to deal with them appropriately and promptly can unravel team cohesion. Examples include failing to air concerns about a team member’s nega- tive behaviors or performance and avoiding issues in hopes they will rectify themselves. Blaming others or circum- stances. Many leaders take credit for the good outcomes and blame others for the bad. Such behavior undermines the team and often causes members to isolate themselves from the leader. Examples of the “blame game” include always having an excuse for why something went wrong and berating team members for something beyond their control. Treating commitments casually. It is easy to tell someone what he or she wants to hear; problems develop when leaders don’t deliver on their promises. Over time, those leaders are viewed as unreliable and disin- genuous. Even something as simple as show- ing up late for meetings can be viewed as a lack of commitment. Conspiring against others. Sometimes, leaders attempt to forge connections with one or more team members by criticizing others. They may talk negatively about one team member to another, engage in office gossip, or belittle a team member’s ideas. Withholding emotional commit- ments. Leaders may not always agree with directives from supervisors, but pro- jecting a lack of commitment tells teams that the associated tasks do not merit their best efforts. Not taking a stand. This is the “wishy- washy” leader’s blind spot. Examples include remaining silent when there is dis- agreement with the majority, being noncon- frontational to supervisors, and having team members work around a problem rather than addressing it directly. SERGEY NIVENS/STOCK.ADOBE.COM