It’s A Paradox #3: Vision & Blind Spots
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer
You can tell that I am really digging into Tim Elmor’s book The Eight Pardoxes of Leadership. This week, I want to share another paradox, great leaders leverage both vision and blind spots. The proverb says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Leaders and their followers really need vision.
I have written posts on why blind spots are bad and how we need to have people help us see them. Blind spots can be devastating to a leader and their team, so how can we find value in them?
Tim Elmor explains it this way; vision provides the target, and blind spots allow us to try unconventional means to hit it. Based on our vision, we know where we want to go, but our blind spots allow us to move forward rather than being trapped by ‘what-if’ scenarios. Consider the Apollo Program; President John Kennedy gave us the vision. We will put a man on the moon by the end of his decade. How that would be done was unknown. The technology to do so didn’t exist yet, the risks were not fully known, and the average age of the engineers at Mission Control was 28. Gene Krans, Flight Director for Apollo 11, was 36. They were young, brilliant, and filled with blind spots by the nature of their age and the infancy of the technology — a perfect combination.
I also want to extend a warning. Blind spots can be fatal. I am not celebrating the reality of blind spots, only sharing that great leaders have both vision and blind spots. The best leaders have an inner circle to help them identify the deadly blind spots. Today, cars have blind spot warning systems for a reason. As leaders, we must maintain the balance between pushing through the unknown and heading warnings that could likely be fatal to our mission. The engineers at Mission Control were able to do this very well.
One final word, your blind spots are often found very close to your strengths. Many in my classes have heard me say, “A strength overused becomes a weakness”. This occurs because we push forward often without thinking.