Five Top Leadership BL█ND SP■TS

#1 Making Yourself the Exception to the Rule.

One of the goals of the Pacific Conference is to help build healthy pastors and leaders. This week I’m starting a blog series entitled Five Top Leadership Blind Spots. A blind spot is a deficiency in a person’s life that they can’t see, but others can. The dictionary defines it as “an area where a person’s view is obstructed.”

The fact is, all of us have blind spots. What’s even scarier is that once you become a leader, you have even more of them. Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, says that self-awareness in leaders “descends faster than a snowboarder on a black diamond. CEOs, on average, have the lowest Emotional Intelligence scores in the workplace.”

So, if you are in leadership and don’t think you have blind spots, the only person in the dark is YOU!


So, the first blind spot we have as leaders is this: Making ourselves the exception to the rule. In college, I took a philosophy class on ethics. One philosopher I studied was a guy named John Stuart Mill who taught a concept called “utilitarianism” He reasoned that what was right is what was best for the majority. So, if you took any behavior and made it universal, you’d ask yourself, “What if everyone did this, would it be a good or bad thing? If it was good for all, it is right and ethical. It if wasn’t, it would be wrong and unethical.

Believe it or not, that simple test is good for every leader. Far too often leaders make themselves the exception. We all need to ask that utilitarian question – “What if everyone did what I’m doing or said what I’m saying?” If it’s not okay for others to do it, why is it okay for me to do it?

Our own pride leads us to exceptionalism (my word). We act one way but expect others to toe the line. My agenda is more important than the other person’s. And we come up with all kinds of excuses. “I was tired,” or “I’m overworked,” or “It won’t make a difference.”

When we make ourselves the exception to the rule it shows up in all the wrong places.

  • I can shine that meeting, but when I’m in charge, but I want everyone there.
  • I can miss a deadline, but my staff better have their work done on time.
  • I can balk at the Conference’s standards and expectations, but others better meet mine!

In Luke 14, Jesus tells us to watch out and be humble: “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this man your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:8-11).

Do you have this blind spot? The last thing we should do is become defensive.

A better self-awareness comes from being honest and even listening to others that don’t agree with us. So ask yourself, do you make yourself the exception to the rule? What if everyone chose the best seat for themselves? In fact, how would you fill in the blank? What if everyone _____________________________?


You may find this interesting. It is called the Johari Window (pictured below).

Johari WindowThe quadrants on the left we are aware, but the right quadrants we are unaware. Note, it really comes down to two areas that need that most work: the hidden and the blind areas of our lives. If we want to lead more effectively, we must be more vulnerable and open about the ‘hidden’ areas we see and humbly seek to know the ‘blind’ areas others see.

Next week we look at the second blind spot leadership have – the need to be right!

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Bill Vermillion says:

    Thanks Randy glad to see you used the Johari window. It is a valuable tool/illustration for clear intercommunication as long as you are in an atmosphere of trust. I think one of my blind spots which i must confront frequently is my desire to move things along and therefore get impatient with others when they make a long presentation. But when I present I think I deserve full time. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Merle Stutzman says:

    I recall some years ago Rev Delmer Ramsdale (sp) sharing this quotation with us at meetings at Labish Center. “What if everyone did that?” It has continued, for me to be a soul searching, arresting and practical question. It exposes truth and gives light. I am pleased to be reminded of it. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

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