Lack of self-awareness among organizational leaders is pervasive and costly, according to Korn Ferry’s Vicky Swisher and Evelyn Orr.
They studied executives using the FYI: For Your Insight assessment tool, based on research from FYI for Insight: 21 Leadership Characteristics for Success and 5 That Will Get You Fired.
Executives’ #1 blind spot tied between:
• Making tough people calls,
• Demonstrating personal flexibility, adapting approaches to new circumstances.
Similarly, there was a near-tie the #1 leadership problem:
• Not inspiring employees, not building talent,
• “Too narrow”, relying on deep expertise without broadening perspective.
Leaders vastly underestimated their effectiveness in “managing up”, suggesting that they focused more on their next promotion, rather than on developing their employees.
Lack of self-awareness can be reduced by using a “Reality Check” including:
o Feedback from others to provide “early warning” of difficulty.
However, this requires that evaluators are willing to provide candid observations, despite widespread discomfort in providing corrective feedback.
o Self-reflection concerning effective and ineffective behaviors, documented in a journal for review.
Executives learned most to enhance leadership skills and self-reflection from on-the-job experiences, distantly followed by learning from other people.
Structured trainings are most costly and least effective to enhance leadership cognitive, emotional, motivational, self-awareness, and learning agility capabilities.
These leadership development processes reduce individual blind spots, portrayed by San Francisco State University’s Joe Luft and Harry Ingham of National Training Labs in The JoHari Window.
Korn Ferry’s Michael M. Lombardo and Robert W. Eichinger provided additional executive development recommendations based on research in FYI: For your Improvement, A Development and Coaching Guide (3rd Edition).