We have likely all been there at some point or another in our lives. You know, those awkward moments when the person you are speaking with starts to go down a behavioral path you feel you’re not equipped or prepared to handle. I mean, let’s be real. Not everyone in the workplace is interested in the mystery casserole your colleague made for the company potluck or the details of last month's board meeting. But those people are out there, and they will share their greatest life stories if they feel the opportunity presents itself!
Maybe you’re the type of person who finds a way to tactfully exit a conversation because you’re not interested or because you start feeling uncomfortable at the subject matter presented. The other person may be completely unaware that their behavior is becoming a communication barrier. Sometimes people have no clue that the behavioral traits they are displaying are a source of tension or conflict in personal or professional relationships.
Many behavioral indicators point to gaps in self-awareness, and these are identified as our blind spots. Blind spots are aspects of our natural personality styles that are obvious to everyone but ourselves until someone brings it to our attention. They’re the things we do or say that we have little to no awareness of when we do them or the impact those things may have on others.
Now, blind spots aren’t all that bad; there is some good news. As leaders, when we intentionally spend time and make building relationships with our teams a priority, those blind spots can turn into greater self-awareness and more meaningful connections. We can become more in tune with the things that would otherwise prevent us from building trust.
The following will dive into examples of some common leadership blind spots that each DISC leadership style may encounter. These are all genuine blind spots everyone has, even the best leaders.
As a “D" behavioral style I have several blind spots. I can quickly feel taken advantage of, which then affects my thought process. I can also be impatient and not listen to what others are saying. I want to work on more meaningful conversations with people I work with and know about their interests, desires, and needs. I want to be a better listener, and knowing sometimes I don’t have to fix all the problems, I can lend a sympathetic shoulder.
“I” styles tend to see all the positive and none of the risks. Often, when calculating projects or outcomes, they only estimate on the best of all worlds. Careful attention needs to be put into the “what ifs” and what a plan B might be before you start down the rapids. Make sure you can turn from hasty decisions, which can come from listening to other team members, especially the “S” and “C” DISC styles.
“S” personality styles hate change and will sometimes stay in a bad relationship longer than any other type. “Ss” generally believe things will get better with time, so it’s better sometimes to do nothing and let things work out on their own. By the illustration we see, that is not always the case. Sometimes quick and active decision making is a necessity even when it means changing direction.
“Cs” hate being criticized because they are perfectionists and are usually hard on themselves. Sometimes it takes progress over perfection and letting go of some of the smaller criticisms that can easily make us see red. Not everyone is ever going to see things or understand them at the level you do. That’s ok. Learn to accept others and yourself for who you are. Help the rest of us who are challenged with the gift that comes so abundantly to your thinking style.
Even leaders with the best intentions can get caught off guard when new blind spots appear throughout different phases and during significant life changes and events. The key to overcoming any adverse effects is to focus on continuously developing awareness and growth. The DISC profile for leaders is a great foundational tool that can help individuals and organizations develop a greater understanding to avoid the downsides associated with experiencing too many of those awkward conversation moments in life.