I remember many moons ago pitching for PR consultancy to a company in an unglamorous industry – one you would not normally associate with the need for public relations and publicity.
They decided just that – they had no need for consultancy input in that area.
Shortly thereafter, this company was front page news as there was an industrial accident involving their equipment which resulted in a man’s death.
It’s a true story with many lessons deriving from it.
One is that you never know when you will need somebody who can provide a service you never thought you would require. Interestingly, I highlighted crisis PR to this firm in my discussions.
Most people don’t get married after extensively researching the best divorce lawyers around. Healthy people don’t go hunting for a good doctor.
You just never know when you will need somebody who all of a sudden becomes a key figure in your life.
Another lesson is that we often have a skewed sense of priorities which blinds us to who and what is important to us.
Retaining a PR consultant was way down this firm’s list of priorities until they were engulfed in a tsunami of bad publicity.
House insurance is not a priority until your ceiling collapses due to a water leak.
A classic football analogy is when the whole world can see the glaring need for a certain kind of player in a certain position but the manager does not.
I am talking about blind spots here.
Most of us have them – areas of our life and business where we think we have it covered or where we just don’t see the need.
I am presently rewriting a book that I didn’t have the foresight to back up on disc or flash drive when I first wrote it. Hours of needless activity because I didn’t do a simple thing as a priority.
There’s a verse in Proverbs chapter 23 which says: “Be diligent to know the state of your flocks and attend to your herds.” The reason is then given: “For riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations.”
In other words, your wealth and status depend on your diligence.
This does not mean living in a perennial state of fear that something bad is going to happen; it does mean that you are prudent enough to prepare for setbacks by having safeguards in place.
The number one reason for our blind spots is often pride. Past success can breed complacency which left unchecked can sabotage future progress.
Good leaders surround themselves with wise people who will give them honest appraisals of situations. Only weak leaders surround themselves with yes men or suck-ups. Your greatest asset as a leader is someone who will give you the unvarnished truth, especially if it is a truth you need to hear.
There are probably people in your organisation right now who can tell you how to improve something. If you are not listening to these people or there is no forum for them to be heard, that is a blind spot in itself.
No leader can afford to be ignorant of the weaknesses and strengths of their staff. Failing to deal with the weaknesses or failing to tap into the strengths – both can cost your organisation in terms of income, prestige, growth and progress.
It can be painful and humbling to explore your own blind spots. Some people think that ignoring them is the best policy or that it is weak to “go there” and acknowledge that they are less than perfect. A wise leader knows that his/her strength derives from being able to admit where he/she is wrong and make necessary changes.
Identifying and acknowledging one’s blind spots or areas of weakness does not necessarily mean that leaders should try and be superhuman and try to be a Jack or Jill of all trades. Very often a blind spot is covered by delegating someone proficient in areas we are not to do a job we are rubbish at.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having high standards of excellence as a leader; the danger is when we ignore evidence that we are not meeting the standards.
Be diligent to know the true condition of your organisation. Your life and the lives of those you lead depends on it.