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Leaders Need to Avoid Blinders


Wikipedia tells us that Blinders, also known as blinkers or winkers, are a piece of horse tack that prevent the horse seeing to the rear and, in some cases, to the side.  It goes on to say that many racehorse trainers believe these keep the horse focused on what is in front of him, encouraging him to pay attention to the race rather than other distractions, such as crowds.

In theory, blinders would be an excellent tool for many of today’s leaders … helping them to stay focused on their core values and not be seduced by the A.D.D. and those other “fantastic opportunities”.  I have blogged on many occasions about the need for focus.

Having said that, all leaders also benefit from “other” points so view, perhaps different ways of looking at their problems.  In 2006, the year I started this blog, I wrote about the Value of Strategic Planning… for exactly those kinds of thoughts.

I’m not the only one who thinks this way either, and wrote a blog entry in 2009 with Advice from Some Proven Leaders.  There was a common thread of valuing the opinions of others.

Today I bumped into a fellow CEO at Ottawa airport, and we are both attending the same Toronto events in the next couple of days … related to the 50 Best Managed Companies awards.  Tony and I have known each other probably 10 years, and were in the same President’s club for a number of years but don’t get to chat too much these days.

It took about 2 minutes of conversation to realize that we talk the same language … we are business people, we are business owners, we are both entrepreneurs who started our own companies.  It was refreshing to have that instant “bulb on” chat about issues that are difficult to talk about with anyone who hasn’t “been there”.

It reminded me of some leadership lessons I have learned over the years …

1.  It is lonely at the top.

2.  Partners are a wonderful asset … and I am blessed with GREAT partners.

3.  We all have doubts … but we need to have the “guts’ to make things happen.  Great Seth Godin blog on this!

4.  It is good to be introspective, to question whether your time as leader is done … but it is also good to verify how good you are!

5.  With reference to #1 … you can’t do it alone.  LISTEN to others, be OPEN to advice, TRULY take it in, Develop trusted advisors … THEN make your own mind up about what to do.  At the end of the day it is you who has to lead … and don’t blame the advisors!

You cannot do this with those blinders on!