Over the years, situations facing countries, organisations and individuals tested the abilities of people in charge to handle them and vigilance about destructive issues in their surroundings to protect the territorial integrity of their environments. For an individual to act promptly and at the right time, with the right solution or strategy for the organisation, one needs to be well informed about all the activities in his country or environment – be it social, economic, political, technological, religious and emerging elements of social disharmony.
As a leader, you should be surrounded by vigilant and ethical individuals who are also singing the same song with you, as well as the same ideological principles as yourself. However, situations may present themselves, when a person in charge of a country or an organisation is, of course, possessing the abilities to motivate, influence, persuade and attract people to join his/her ideological thinking.
But the leader is not knowledgeable about his environment or it can happen that citizens/subordinates are the ones that are directing the leader to face a certain direction not necessarily to achieve his or her objectives but to achieve their objectives. In other words, the leader has what we call blind spots.
These are spots that a leader finds difficult to acknowledge and identify him/herself. This means, a leader does not know and accept his/her weaknesses. Leaders with chronic blind spots are difficult to convince, very defensive, get angry quickly, sensitive to issues, do not have trust in subordinates, very bossy, shout and scream at subordinates, discourage subordinates active production capacity, and very bulky.
Equally, we have subordinates with the same characters and mostly these citizens tend to be more knowledgeable than their leaders, understand the work environment better than their leaders. However, these active and useful subordinates suffer humiliation from their leaders as they pose leadership threats from their leaders.
In most cases they are frustrated, stressed and lost directions. To some extend they usually leave the organisation not necessarily that they do not like working for the organisation but to create their inner peace. This is a new leadership style which is slightly different from the previously used and adopted styles such as dictatorial, autocratic, democratic, situational, visionary, transitional and others.
Another version of leaders with blind spots is that they may have thousands of followers that wholeheartedly believe in them. But in reality, what the leader is telling the citizens is not his actual intentions of being a leader.
In most cases, this type of leaders are there to gratify their ego, emotions, self-esteem needs or would like to be more popular, but does not have at heart the societal problems. That is when we can say that a leader is leading blind citizens as citizens/subordinates cannot see the true, actual and realistic intentions of their leader. They will follow, but at the end of the day, only more disappointments and frustrations that will come out of the process.
These types of leaders are more common in politics, where individuals will act and behave in a probably acceptable manner and portray leadership qualities that will lead to their nominations and overall election to be the president or prime minister or any other societal portfolio. But they were just doing this to have a share on the national cake at an individual level and society at the end will suffer more than previously. These leaders are very dangerous as they do not accept their mistakes and they pretend in most cases.
To the contrary, you are likely to find leaders that have a vision and are passionate about societal issues. However, their followers completely will fail to understand and comprehend their leaders’ intentions and strategies. This will create a vacuum between their leaders’ actions and citizens’ responses as to them the leader is taking them to some unknown destinations which are not beneficial to them. This is also part of leading blind citizens. In itself, this is also very dangerous and in a democratic country is even worse. It requires a type of leader that can easily identify potential influential and understanding gaps between their actions and that of the citizens they are leading.
If you are such type of a leader, you should be prepared to continuously embark on lifelong learning activities to educate your citizens to understand your strategy. Otherwise, citizens will always complain and label you as a useless and non-performing leader. Remember, leadership is all about the ability of an individual to influence and persuade employees/citizens to achieve a certain objective or to behave acceptably without applying punitive measures or threats.
Many of the leaders we currently have in our institutions, country, government offices, parastatals or private sector possesses a minimum of these abilities as they believe in threats and punitive measures as the only counter-strategies to ensure that individuals in their departments or section perform to an acceptable level.
Additionally, it can happen that the leaders’ behaviour and actions mostly discourage and demotivate staff members from performing. Blind leaders, often do not see this and cannot do a self-reflection and assessment of their behaviour influence their subordinates’ performance. We are not saying we do not have blind citizens who completely fail to see the future in their leaders’ actions. Blind citizens or employees are dangerous as in most cases you will find them crying crocodile tears that they are not respected, not liked and they are being side-lined by their leaders.
Remember: these features of a blind leader can apply to both effective and non-effective leaders. What matter is how you will attend to these blind corners in your leadership style to ensure that you are leading your followers to prosperity otherwise you will lead them to frustration and chaotic destinations and you commit what we call leadership suicide effects in our actions. As a leader, you should be on top of your game and followers to avoid being led to unknown destinations by selfish citizens.
As a follower, do not just rely on what your leader is saying and directing you to do without first scrutinising that issue and see the validity and reliability to your respective country or organisation or possibly department where you are falling. We all need to be vigilant enough in our actions to ensure that blind spots in leadership are identified and dealt with. It requires leaders that can accept their faults without making a big deal out it.
It requires citizens that are ready to play a fair game for the benefit of the entire society but not necessarily for a few since it is your turn to eat. That slogan killed a lot of countries, societies, organisations and nations. Leadership awareness and literacy is a requirement to achieve a favourable working environment, especially during critical times.