rearviewmirrorEvery driver has hopefully learned what a blind spot is.  A blind spot is that area where a person’s vision is obstructed.

I once experienced how scary it is to have a car in your blind spot.  I was on the highway, approaching a slower car in front of me.  As a safe driver, I signaled my intent to change lanes and pass well in advance of the slow moving vehicle.  I checked my rear-view mirror.  I checked my driver’s side mirror.    I started my move into the passing lane.  And then I heard the wail of a car horn, and realized that I had forgotten to check my blind spot!

A giant white SUV was just inches away as I swerved (with more panic than I would like to admit) back into my lane, where I slowed down behind the slower car in front of me, ignored the less than friendly gestures from the SUV driver that was now accelerating away from me, and regained control of my breathing.

blind_spotsThat is when it became really clear to me – blind spots are dangerous!  Or, at least they can be.  The biggest problem is that a 2 ton SUV can be lurking in your blind spot.  I was not driving recklessly.  I just wanted to make a normal lane change.  It was what I did not see that was so dangerous.

And we all have blind spots.  All of us.  Those blind spots exist not just when we are driving, but when we are leading in our homes, leading in our volunteer positions, and leading in our work setting.  Those blind spots can cause us to overlook something as dangerous as an SUV on the highway.

So, as Don and I have set off on our own personal adventure of learning to check our blind spots in our leadership, we wanted to blog about the journey and hopefully make others aware of things that might be lurking in their blind spots.


Donald Miller once tweeted: The only leaders that I trust are the ones willing to admit they might be wrong. They’re always checking their blind spots.

I have worked for a variety of leaders. Some were great, some lacked anything the resembled leadership abilities. I had one leader who may have been the basis for Michael Scott’s The Office character. I also had a boss who invested so much in me as a person and lead with such integrity that he made me feel that at 23 I could conquer the world.

I am now old enough to have asked myself often what makes me want to follow a leader, and conversely what makes people want to follow me? This statement from Donald Miller captured exactly what I had been thinking. It is easier to follow someone who is willing to admit they are wrong. You feel safer with someone who is checking their blind spots.

There is a given level of respect that we all should/need to have for someone placed in authority over us. It is Biblical, cultural and respectful. The converse side is this, there are also a lot of things leaders can do to earn and destroy your respect for them. One of the big ones is not admitting mistakes.

Blind spot leadership is really all about being vulnerable enough to say, “O Wow, I didn’t expect that result, and guess what, it was a mistake.” It is vulnerability in knowing that certain tasks and ideas are not going to be my strengths, and when I try to do those things, the results may be less the ideal. It is learning to figure out when it is time to lead from bellow or beside. It is learning that being a leader doesn’t always mean being the leader.

Are we willing to check those blind spots! Are we willing to swallow that swelling pride of ours and admit, we may have been wrong. If so, we are beginning to understand the strength of leading while being aware of our blind spots.