How to Cure It

A meeting begins. The team has prepared 25 slides to present well researched findings after a lot of hard work and midnight oil burnt. They have dressed up in their best possible attire to make the best impression. As they move from title slide to the first point they want to make, a booming voice appears “ But where is the chart on the numbers….”. With that one interruption and the others that followed the presentation derailed never reaching its logical conclusion. When asked later, the boss’s view of the meeting was “the team was not well prepared”. There was no mention of his interruption and rudeness – it did not even register with him.

This is called boss blindness.

It’s a common phenomena also known as Johari Window – you don’t know what  you don’t know. In the case of bosses, leaders it becomes an acute problem because 

  • They lose touch with reality
  • They are often fed selective information
  • They acquire a larger than life of view of themselves
  • They may start seeing themselves as superior to others in intellect etc

This creates bad behaviour in leaders – rudeness, interruption, impatience, lack of appreciation etc and since the leader is unaware the behaviour continues till it starts to damage the entire organization.

How can we solve it. Boss blindness can also be called Boss blinkers – meaning the person is unaware of their behaviour and hence causing it repeatedly. So how can we remove the blinkers

  1. Conduct a 360 Survey – This is a common tool where peers, subordinates and superiors will come together to give feedback on the individual concerned. Many online tools are available for the same and this can be done anonymously as well
  1. Engage in 1-1 conversation  – Many leaders will be willing to listen to feedback behind closed doors and be open to change. They need someone to do so frankly and clearly. This can be done by someone the leader trusts and is willing to listen to
  1. Do an anonymous survey – Use google forms or tools like surveymonkey to take feedback on how people feel around the person, what are the areas of improvement and what are the specific behaviours that upset people or cause issues
  1. Start A Challenge – Set up a team challenge that in every meeting everyone will follow a certain good behaviour – eg. No phone calls, listen fully, not interrupt and see how well it is practiced. This is an indirect way to signal to the boss the need to make the change and make the issue obvious

In most cases efforts to remove the blinders will make most bosses see the light, acknowledge the need for change and start to make the effort. Most people want to lead well and inspire. They sometimes may not know what is stopping them from doing so.

We can help remove boss blindness and bring them into the light.

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