6 CEO Blindspots and How to Overcome Them

Even the most skilled leaders have blindspots that can limit their potential. As a CEO, identifying and addressing your blindspots is critical for elevating your leadership. Here are 6 common CEO blindspots, their impacts, and detailed tips to overcome them:

1. Not soliciting enough honest feedback

The Problem: A leader avoids or discourages critical feedback and surrounds themselves with colleagues who only give positive feedback.

Example: A CEO stacks their team with “yes” people and avoids doing 360 reviews.

Impact: The CEO may makes decisions with severely limited input, hindering the company’s performance.

Tips:

  • Seek periodic 360 reviews to get objective perspectives. Set up anonymous 360 reviews every 6 months to gain unfiltered feedback, and pay attention to the results.
  • Hire an executive coach who is willing to challenge you and share candid observations. An experienced coach will identify blindspots and provide confidential, impartial advice.
  • Maintain peer relationships. Seek relationships with peers outside your business and industry who know what it’s like to be in your shoes and who want to see you succeed.

2. Becoming overly tactical

The Problem: A CEO becomes managed by her calendar instead of managing her calendar.

Example: She spends her day buried in status meetings, email, and micromanaging issues.

Impact: Focusing on immediate, tactical issues causes the CEO to lose sight of the strategic vision, and not progress on critical initiatives.

Tips:

  • Schedule reflective time to think about the company’s vision and strategy. Block out 2 hours each week to think strategically without distractions.
  • Let your team handle day-to-day issues so you can focus on big-picture priorities. Assign tasks and empower managers to resolve tactical issues independently.
  • Institute recurring strategic reviews. Commit to reviewing key metrics and priorities weekly/monthly. Revisit the annual operations plan quarterly to review contingency plans and realign as needed. Having a 3-5 year strategic plan is wise, but avoid getting bogged down in the strategic planning process too frequently.

3. Neglecting their own self-care

The Problem: An overly busy CEO disregards their health, skips workouts, and fails to take time to recharge.

Example: A CEO works 80 hours a week, skips vacations, and is constantly stressed.

Impact: The CEO experiences burnout, reduced performance, and models an unhealthy lifestyle for the company.

Tips:

  • Prioritize personal health by blocking out time for exercise, proper sleep, and healthy eating. Set reminders to leave work and exercise. Log off on time.
  • Take regular vacations fully disconnected from work. Unplug completely for 1-2 weeks annually for mental rejuvenation.
  • Build in daily renewing practices like meditation or journaling. Start each day with 20 minutes of mindfulness to relieve stress.

4. Surrounding themselves with “yes” people

The Problem: A CEO stacks his team with colleagues who lack diverse perspectives and are afraid to challenge the status quo.

Example: The CEO has an inner circle of groupthink advisors who affirm the his views.

Impact: Flawed group decisions are made without considering contrary evidence.

Tips:

  • Welcome and reward helpful disagreement during meetings. Thank teammates who respectfully disagree with ideas.
  • Seek direct reports with expertise different from your own. Hire carefully for diversity of thought.
  • Maintain an external advisory board that constructively critiques strategy. Recruit third-party experts to provide impartial strategic feedback.

5. Letting ego get in the way

The Problem: Success inflates a CEO’s ego, causing them to stop seeking input from others.

Example: A CEO believes her expertise exceeds others and her abilities have no limits.

Impact: The CEO’s unchecked ego leads to blind spots in judgment that negatively impact the company.

Tips:

  • Lead with compassion and humility. Admit when you’re wrong quickly and sincerely.
  • Surround yourself with grounded mentors. Select mentors who won’t hesitate to tell you the truth.
  • Focus on exemplary character and ethics. Do the right thing, especially when it’s difficult.

6. Becoming too isolated

The Problem: The demands of being CEO cause someone to stop networking with peers, mentors, and friends.

Example: A CEO stops attending conferences, networking events, or social gatherings.

Impact: The CEO loses important connections, support systems, and access to fresh perspectives.

Tips:

  • Prioritize and maintain strong personal relationships with mentors, friends, and family. Prioritize time for your closest supporters.
  • Join a peer advisory group to exchange ideas with fellow leaders. Surround yourself with others who understand the CEO experience.
  • Seek balance between your professional and personal life. Over-identifying with the CEO role can lead to isolation. Pursue non-work interests.

Recognizing your own blindspots takes humility. But addressing them will elevate your leadership.

Even the most accomplished executives have coaches to expand their skills. If you relate to these CEO challenges, let’s have a conversation. I’d be happy to offer my perspective on how to become an even more effective leader.

As CEOs, we confront critical choices – growth strategies, succession planning, employee engagement, leadership development…the list seems endless. The weight of these decisions can feel exhilarating, yet also stressful. And lonely.

Even though I started an INC. 500 company, I spent too many years trying to navigate it all solo. I’ve learned every CEO needs a community of peers who understand the unique challenges we face.

Peernacle is a private peer advisory group where leaders in southern Virginia come together and help one another to make better decisions and grow as leaders. If you’re looking for a community where you can gain insight from others who have sat in your seat, explore Peernacle group membership.