Monday, May 23, 2011

Biases - Never Knew I Had So Many

I like to think I am an open-minded leader.  I try to stay positive, support others, keep lines of communication open, and generally accept everyone in my organization as a valuable member of the team.  Everyone?  Really?

Time to Get Real
Despite the fact that I've just rattled off my little "holier-than-thou" opening about how wonderful I think I am; the reality is that I, like everybody else, carry biases around.  Yes I said it, everybody.  Coming to the realization that somehow I was part of "everybody" has been difficult to say the least.  Like it or not, we have all been shaped by our environments at home, school, socially and in the workplace.  These experiences influence how we see the world, and our place in it.  But if I'm going to continue to push out of my comfort zone, I need to hold myself accountable and accept that I too carry biases with me.  I try hard not to show them, but realistically do I believe I can hide them?  Can you hide yours?

We're Not Bad, We're Human
It's an odd thing, admitting that one has weaknesses.  It's even more uncomfortable when you list the areas you need to work on.  Turns out it's a long least it is for me.  

I don't feel bad about it, but I do feel a tremendous responsibility to do something about it.  That's the real pressure - doing what must be done.  

How About You
Do you still believe your own "leadership-speak" about treating everyone equally? Or, have you decided to take a much deeper look at how you view the you view yourself in the world?  A look that goes beyond sounding like a walking press release or policy manual, and actually talking like normal people do. Remember, no one speaks "policy" least the leaders that get any respect don't.   How long is your list?  Do you have the courage to start working on it?  

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of Happy Feli


  1. Jay,

    Yes we all have them and to show them, an interesting thing to try is the Implicit Association Test through Harvard. Certainly eye opening and a good start to see where things lie within ourselves!

  2. Open discussion about bias is a great way to get people thinking about how deep their judgement runs. I think we are often too hard on leaders without helping them identify and work on their biases. Unidentified or unacknowledged bias can lead to mistreatment or inequalities, even of the smallest kind.
    Being aware of your biases is what is key. Having them is one thing, how you act on them is what really matters.

  3. Bradley - Great tip...I'll check it out!

    Tim - I'm with you 100%, it's what we do about our biases that makes all the difference!