Team Reveal to reduce leadership self deception

REVEAL: Leadership and Self Deception?

leadership team development Mar 19, 2021

Do you do it, too?

You know, excuse yourself to the bathroom during your lunch with an important client, so that you can smile at your reflection in the mirror and check for spinach that might be stuck in your teeth?

I can’t think of anything more powerful than a moment of honest self-reflection to help us grow as leaders.

Have you ever worked with someone who was self deceived and unaware of the impact they had on others? Maybe they needed a good dose of reveal - their strengths, weaknesses, and blind spots - and didn’t even know it!


Tom was a member of one of my client’s teams. He was amazing at what he did. Tom was also amazingly blind to what he didn’t do and that’s interact with his colleagues in a way that was authentic and genuine.

His colleagues described Tom as aloof, condescending, and unfriendly. The team was simultaneously impressed with Tom’s high IQ and frustrated with his low EQ. They were eager for their manager to replace him with someone who was more approachable and authentic.

What would you do with Tom if he were a part of your team?

As a team leader, how do you shift your people from self deception and being “blind” to seeing who they are, with their strengths and weaknesses, so that your team is strong and healthy?


TEAM REVEAL. Before I tell you what Tom’s manager did, let me challenge you with a thought. I believe that every leader of leaders should have a way of holding up a proverbial mirror to his people to help them reduce their self-deception by getting a real view of themselves.

Why that’s important is because team’s engagement and productivity are on the line. Studies show us that individuals who know their strengths and step into them every day are:

  • 6X more likely to be engaged at work
  • 3X more likely to be satisfied with their lives

Back to Tom’s manager. He didn’t want to lose Tom and his technical expertise that the team needed. But the manager knew that he had to find a way to shift Tom from being unaware and blind to his weaknesses.

Here is what the manger did and how he helped the entire team become stronger in the process.

First, Tom’s manager had everyone on the team take the CliftonStrengths® Assessment. He chose that tool because he liked its positive focus on each person's natural talents and practical steps of addressing their weaknesses and blind spots.

Second, Tom’s manager, the team and I discussed the results of the assessment.  We talked about how the team was full of leaders who valued deep and meaningful relationships. They looked for genuineness and transparency in others, and whey they didn’t find them, they had a hard time trusting that person. Tom was the only person on the team who led with mostly analytical strengths, seeking the truth in numbers before seeking a connection in relationships. Discussing the natural filters of Tom and everyone else on the team was eye-opening to everyone.

Third, my client started to meet with Tom for weekly one-on-one conversations. During those check-ins, they talked about how Tom was prone to self deception that prevented him from growing as a leader. The manager listened to Tom, what motivated him and what drained him. He helped Tom with strategies for connecting with his teammates in ways that were authentic to him.

At the end, Tom and everyone else on the team had a more complete view of themselves. They shifted to being more self-aware, mindful of their blind spots and armed with some simple but strengths-based strategies to address them. The win for the manager was a team that was ready to tackle daily challenges and goals with less friction and conflict.  

And that is just one of the benefits team leaders reap when they take their teams through our High Performing Team Program.

Take The Challenge

Here is a challenge for you if you are looking to hold up a mirror to your people and help them move from self deception to knowing themselves better.

This week introduce an icebreaker to your team meetings. You will be surprised how this quick and low-key game will help your team members learn something new about themselves and one another.

Your job is to listen, so you can help them grow as leaders.

Here are 3 questions to get you started:

  • What did you love to do in your spare time as a kid?
  • What do you love to do now in your spare time?
  • What made you laugh hard this week?


If you’re looking for more ideas around getting the most out of your team, download a copy of the Executive Guide to Healthy Teams.

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