Blind Spots, Objective Leadership & the Dead

“Once in a while you get shown the light/In the strangest of places/If you look at it right” – The Grateful Dead


To celebrate the iconic lifestyle brand of the Grateful Dead and their recent sold out 50th anniversary reunion stadium run, let’s talk about vision and its shadow side, blind spots.


Vision allows organizations the most competitive, legal advantage, perspective – perspective on the market, cultural and economic trends, and on itself. Perspective is the most rare and rarified tools of great leaders. The ability to zoom in and zoom out and see issues from every possible side, like lenses in a prism, allows objectivity on issues that defy habit, compulsion and fear.


Real vision is both visionary and pragmatic. While you survey the range of possible approaches, you scan for the most winning and advantageous opportunity with full knowledge of the risks and rewards.


Think of this level of leadership vision as being fully conscious. Such leaders are too rare. In fact, you can name them there are so few, the brave women and men who start movements, change the way we live for the better and create or leapfrog an industry.


This type of leadership can be trained and is achievable, but most do not want to endure the rigors of such intellectual honesty, emotional vulnerability and ardor. Instead, the majority of leaders never reach their potential. As a result, their organizations do not thrive as optimally as possible.


So, they temper their vision and constrain the vision of those who work for them. After all, it is more comfortable to ignore blind spots and maintain tunnel vision than it is to see things as they are today and how they could be in the near future.


Perspective and objectivity are hard, hard work. Without an intention to be the best or a driving, demanding culture like the military, few answer their call to greatness. Instead, they waste time answering emails in meetings they didn’t need to attend, a perfect place to hide, complete with a cloak of busyness.


By extending vision as a metaphor, we can look at common eyesight problems and infer organizational shortcomings, a lack of authentic leadership and tensions within a culture.


Tunnel Vision: Reduction in vision may be called tunnel vision, which aptly describes the problem. The image is clear in the center of the visual field, but the outer edges of the range of vision are blurry.


Hemianopia: With hemianopia, half the field of vision is blacked out in both the eyes. There is no treatment, either medical or surgical, for improving this condition, but sometimes it improves on its own with time. Field-expanding prism lens glasses and magnifiers may help.


Blind Spots: A blind spot is an area of the visual field that is obscure.


I’ll leave the reader to connect the dots about which optic metaphor may fit the leadership of their organization, both the diagnosis and the prognosis. Know this, however, if your leaders have vision and objectivity, and can look at issues from many points of view, count your lucky stars, and be grateful you can see them.