Blind-Eye-Dumb and Other Stupid Things Leaders Do

Don’t be offended at today’s title. Stupid comes before smart.

If you aren’t stupid, you’re “too” smart. But repeated stupid in the same way is dumb.

People who think they know – when they don’t – repeat ineffective behaviors.


One thing I notice about successful leaders is they bring stuff up. Turning a blind eye prolongs issues you wish would go away.

Discomfort with any issue is reason enough to bring it up. 

Never turn a blind eye to bad attitudes, strained relationships, and recurring dips in performance.

A blind eye feels safe. If you bring it up, after all, you might make it worse.

You turn a blind eye because you aren’t sure what to do. But uncertainty is all the more reason to lean in.

Issues you ignore build organizational culture and block forward movement.

How to stop turning a blind eye:

  1. Notice. “I notice tension between you and Wilma.” Just say it and be quiet.
  2. Explain your impression. “It seems like … .”
  3. Practice annoying curiosity. Ask second and third questions.  
    • “What’s going on with … ?”
    • “What makes you say that?”
    • “What happens if you do nothing?”
  4. Reject band aids. Make space to generate several solutions.

Notice dips and upticks in performance. Don’t just pat people on the back or kick them in the pants.

Questions to ask when performance changes:

  1. What are you doing differently? (Use this for both upticks and downturns.)
  2. What was happening when/before performance changed?
  3. What are management and leadership doing that impact performance? (If management and leadership aren’t positively impacting performance, THEY are the problem.)

Turning a blind eye makes smart leaders dumb, but growth begins with the courage to not know.

Other dumb things leaders do:

  1. Over-helpful-dumb.
  2. Disrespectful-dumb.

Everyone who thinks they know – when they don’t – ends up angry and stuck. 

What suggestions do you have for blind-eye-dumb leaders?

What other forms of “Dumb” do you see in leadership/management?