I spend an above average amount of life in airports, so I’ve noticed that TSA lines aren’t getting any shorter. In fact, the process of getting on a plane in the states doesn’t appear to be getting faster or more efficient. This is likely due to inefficiency in managing existing staff. So when Kelly Hogan, the head of TSA security, received $90,000 in bonuses in addition to his $181,500 annual salary, TSA entered the BlindSpot Zone.
When leaders accept substantial bonuses while serious problems continue to plague their organization, they have Blindspots. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) went on record to say that Hoggan’s bonuses weren’t in proportion to the operations he was overseeing, which were “in total failure” during the 13 months that Hoggan received bonuses, according to Chaffetz.
Yet a recent USA Today article contests Chaffetz’s claim, and stated that “the Transportation Security Administration ousted its head of security…because the agency is seeking a ‘different approach,’ not because of any wrongdoing” and that TSA’s goal goal moving forward “was to gauge how to move travelers more efficiently through lines, rather than just faster."
That would have been amazing, but that level of TSA organization and insight didn’t seem to find its legs.
Back in May of this year, approximately 500 travelers were stranded at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport because long TSA lines prevented them from catching their flights. Sure, cots were provided. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel even went so far as to promise more TSA screeners in the future.
Unfortunately, this level of neglect in business is rooted in the most common blind spot: the self-serving bias.
Some leaders are publicly self-serving. In other words, they know it and so does everyone else. That is not a blind spot. That is a character flaw.
The true blind spot occurs when a leader believes they are making decisions to serve the greater good of the organization, but their actions demonstrate they are more self-serving than they think they are. Others can see the blind spot, while the leader remains unaware.
Another common blind spot: entitlement thinking.
When I worked for the company that ultimately led to my prison sentence, I once received a $100,000 bonus from the CEO on top of my $180,000 annual salary. In hindsight, the whole idea of giving me that much money seems absurd. Even as I write this, I am flabbergasted at how my brain was functioning back then. I remember thinking that I deserved the bonus. After all, I was working day and night for the better part of seven days a week. To be perfectly honest, I felt entitled.
Was Hogan feeling entitled? Maybe. We really can’t judge what he was feeling or thinking, but if we take a look at his actions we can see indications that he had entered The BlindSpot Zone.
Kevin McCarthy is the bestselling author of BlindSpots – Why Good People Make Bad Choices. He is a professional member of the National Speakers Association and current President of the Oregon chapter, where he recently won Member of the Year. Kevin is a full time keynote speaker, author, trainer and coach helping busy professionals make authentic lasting change. Organizations hire Kevin for transformational leadership and ethics keynotes and training programs.