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from Systema

What's Your Blind Spot?

Profiles in Sales Management
By Jack R. Snader

Blind spots. Everybody's got one* or more. It's a touchy subject. We close our eyes to parts of ourselves we don't want to see. We find it difficult to own up to them. We view these parts of ourselves as negative or bad. They don't fit the positive self-image we like to entertain, ...yet they're aspects of us that are obvious to others.

Ultimately, there are only two ways to deal with blind spots: find out what they are, or avoid finding out. Either approach is problematic.

If we try to find out from others, few people will be candid because of the fear of injuring our self-esteem and losing our friendship. The daring person who honestly tells it like it is might, in fact, lose our friendship, at least temporarily. And unless we know how to change, the sting of the negative information we get about ourselves might erode our self-esteem without contributing to our growth. Alternatively, that daring person might share feedback perceptions polluted by the illogic of his or her own defensiveness, which means we can never be absolutely certain of the reliability of the information.

Path of Least Resistance

If we take the path of least resistance (and "lesser courage") and avoid finding out what our blind spots are, we are definitely in the majority. Most people rationalize known problems, blinding themselves to the extent of harm they cause, or else totally block out self-awareness in some ways in order to feel great about themselves so they can "have a nice day." But at what price? Professionally and personally, who pays for a person's disowned negativity? The people closest to that person, especially those with less power.

Socially, we have to either work around each other's negative behaviors or confront each other with the problems they cause. When we work around each other, we become enablers, giving people with the biggest problems much more power over us than they really deserve. We end up taking care of problem people rather than accomplishing our own goals. Confronting behavior problems is the job of managers, and good managers are artful in their ability to facilitate change and growth in subordinates through confrontational finesse. But what happens when it's the manager who avoids honest self-examination? What subordinate will step out to confront a manager when the manager could easily retaliate by "firing the messenger"?

At Systema, we recognize that the blind spots of associates need to be confronted in order to build and sustain an efficient and effective organization. That's why we've created specially designed stakeholder feedback systems as a basis for performance improvement. Written feedback, gathered confidentially from a number of subordinates, peers, or customers provides more reliable results than the feedback of any one individual. In addition, subordinates and customers often perceive performance gaps that elude managers since it is the subordinates or customers who are closest to the individual's job behaviors and are most affected by their blind spots.

Systema's Performance Cycle Instruments

glean the perceptions of subordinates or customers, peers, and/or managers to pinpoint blind spots with great precision. Our profiles, offering clear information on individual skill strengths and soft spots, are presented only to the individual concerned. The sting of any blind spots that surface can be felt in private, reducing the likelihood or degree of defensiveness and preserving personal dignity.

A Systema consultant provides one-on-one counseling and can offer guidance on action planning. Systema support and reference materials provide information vital for increased understanding and self-development. Our training sessions, self-study modules or briefings on specific job skills, re-profiles, and other products and services are available for continuous follow-up.

What are the blind spots in your organization? If you don't think you have any, or if you have no idea what they might be, you and your company could be in more trouble than you realize. Systema can help.

For information on Systema's sales management development systems, e-mail us at

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