Now, think about when you reacted to a name on a resume that was ethnically different from your own or when you estimated a person’s age by the year they completed school or university.
Also, consider how you reacted the last time you interviewed someone who fit your idea of an attractive person. Then consider how you felt when you interviewed a candidate whose appearance or presentation didn’t match your expectations. Perhaps they were short, tall, obese, in a wheelchair, or had a speech impediment.
It’s uncomfortable, isn’t it?
As humans, we are programmed to respond positively to people we perceive to be like us and react negatively (consciously or unconsciously) to people we perceive as too different to “fit in” to our social or professional groups. Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman found that most human decisions are not based on facts or logic. Instead, they are based on biases, beliefs, and intuition.
What is Leadership Bias?
Leadership bias is a form of unconscious bias that causes leaders to categorize, compare, and make assumptions that reinforce their own—often unintentional—favoritisms, preconceptions, and prejudices, as well as common stereotypes.
Leadership bias creates judgment errors that affect leaders’ decisions and feedback.
Common Types of Leadership Bias
Recency or “what have you done for me lately?” bias
5 Ways to Overcome Leadership Bias
Acknowledge the bias
Unconscious bias and self-awareness training
Structure employee feedback
Also, it is wise to get a second opinion—no single individual (including you as a leader) should have a disproportionate influence over an employee’s performance as a whole. To eliminate individual bias, seek input from multiple sources. Confidential, measured—but not gossipy—input from other managers and peers can help significantly reduce bias in performance feedback.
For more tips on delivering unbiased feedback to employees, check out Unbiased Feedback: Why it Matters.
Stick to the facts—and look at the data
Get more collective intelligence
Key Takeaways About Leadership Bias
While the human brain is built for bias, leaders don’t have to give in to it. Leaders who acknowledge their own biases can constantly check themselves, look at data, gain second opinions, and use collective intelligence to counter bias and make better decisions.
ThoughtExchange gives leaders a quick, simple way to do this. They can gauge views from across their organization anonymously and using patented anti-bias technology. So rather than basing their decisions and strategies on the ideas of a few at the top, leaders can use ThoughtExchange to generate data points from across the organization, then soundboard the resulting strategy to make sure it’s effective.
This approach not only helps cull bias at leadership levels, it ensures the entire organization has bought-in to decisions and encourages greater leadership alignment.
If you’re interested in learning how to unlock the power of collective intelligence in your organization to disrupt leadership bias and create more inclusive work environments for everyone, get in touch with us.