“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”

– Michael Jordan

None of us are the leader we think we are.  It’s a hard pill to swallow, but all the research points in that direction.  In twenty years of coaching, training, consulting, and research, I am sure of one thing: all of us have big blind spots that limit us.  I also know that as you enjoy more success, you receive less feedback. Often, we don’t ask for feedback or set a safe atmosphere for others to share it, and the result is a misguided reflection when we look in the mirror.

Psychologist and author Heidi Grant Halvorson states, “one of the things we have learned from over 50 years of research on perception is that most of the time, we assume other people see us the way we see ourselves. A second thing we’ve learned is that that is almost never true.”

I have uncovered seven wicked leadership dysfunctions that hinder our overall effectiveness:


  1. Overestimating yourself and underestimating others.
  2. The need to be right instead of doing what’s right.
  3. Not listening or being present with others.
  4. Making everything high priority versus the critical few.
  5. Too much selfish ambition.
  6. Not being honest about others’ performance.
  7. Too much stake in the past as an indicator of the future.

No matter how you cover them up, they eventually leak out.  And the more you deny or bury them, the worse they become.

Here is the dirty little secret: everyone already sees your weaknesses and would respect you even more if you owned them and opened up about how you confront them.

As we have discussed in the past, it’s crucial to embrace the growth mindset. As Dr. Carol Dweck says, “People who must look good, or people who think mistakes are bad, or people who dislike accountability have a hard time learning things.”

In other words, failing to embrace your weaknesses or blind spots can be lethal to your long-term impact. Three ideas to consider:

  • Work with a trusted performance coach who is strong enough to pull out your best but also confront you about your worst. Others may admire your strengths, but they will never forget your worst moments. Are you courageous enough to work with a coach?
  • Gain ongoing insights from a “No B.S. Buddy” who is always ruthlessly honest with you.  Confidants that share the unfiltered truth are your most valuable advocates. Have you given a trusted friend permission to critique your performance in real time?
  • Slow down, pause more, and listen until it hurts. We now live in a culture that is addicted to activity and does not value thoughtful reflection. You cannot see clearly unless you learn to slow down and consider how you are impacting others and the quality of your decisions.  Are you committed to being more thoughtful?

Learning new skills is exciting but unlearning leadership behaviors that no longer serve you will set you apart. Learn to approach your personal development with a “beginner’s mind.”

“No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always
lose out to a team.”

 – Reid Hoffman