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Coaches Help Find Blind Spots

By Joey Havens

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A dear friend and business colleague once roasted me to a large group about my coaching him on his blind spots. I cried with laughter as he described the pain of these coaching sessions. Frankly, it is painful, yet it is one of the best ways to grow as a person and a professional. I’m sure I failed my friend in many ways with my delivery or messaging; however, to his credit, he used this feedback to grow. 

Recently, someone asked me if I thought coaches greatly benefit a person’s career.  As I reflected on this question, it has been my blind spots and coaching sessions with my coaches and mentors that have grown me the most.  Each of us has blind spots — we have constraints that slow us down or prevent our full potential.  Maybe the best leadership lesson this week will be to share some of my most significant blind spots constraining me.  Each of these was identified by a coach or mentor who helped me see how I could #beBetter. 

Fuzzy agreements were one of the first blind spots I discovered using an external coach.  I remember making a team member feel like they had failed on a client delivery when I had been unclear that my meeting with the client was on Tuesday morning.  I had a terrible habit of communicating expectations to team members who did not have clarity on the expected outcomes.  Like many, my timeline was vague, “early next week.”  My team member assumed anytime on Tuesday or Wednesday would be fine resulting in me apologizing to our client and rescheduling an important meeting.  My fuzzy agreements were causing stress, mistakes, and poor client service.  Deliverables were not defined or hard to obtain without the why behind the request.  Collaboration on possible steps or check-in points was left undone.

Other notable constraints that I’ve had to work on as well as help others include:

  • Listening to understand as I was always thinking about my response
  • Multi-tasking as I interacted with team members. By not being present, I gave the perception that the team member or their work was not important.  I also missed very valuable feedback and information.
  • Busy work versus Important and Impactful work.  It is easy to feel good about being busy all day and then realize the most important goal or priority has been untouched or halfway completed.
  • Avoiding festering disagreements.  I always avoided having an open, candid discussion when I felt sideways with someone. 
  • Being right versus searching for the best solution.  My competitive nature led me to insist on my solution or make it my idea versus collaborating for the best outcome.
  • Lack of ownership in my mistake or lack of impact.  It is always easy to justify or rationalize an error or lack of ownership, leading others to do the same. 
  • Not prioritizing Focus Time.  Some of my fun things, reading about Ole Miss football, might drift into my high-energy times when I should be focused on my most important goals. 
  • Lack of communication with all affected parties.  Moving so fast, too often, I did not think about how a decision would impact others on the team. 

That’s enough pain for one blog, although I have had plenty of other blind spots.  I hope discussing these with their negative impacts helps you identify and eliminate one of yours. 

CeCe, what do you mean I didn’t tell you we must leave by 9:30? 

You said we would leave around mid-morning… Some blind spots keep popping up.  

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