Now, before you go off in a huff and rant against my assertion do, please, let me explain. Everyone has biases. Actually, you have to or else your brain would drain all of your energy.
Purpose To highlight the top 10 cognitive biases, shortcuts and heuristics seen active in Leaders so that you are aware of the likely common unconscious bias in your own decision-making and behaviour
Process Check through each of the top 10 biases and identify those that you are aware may be greatly influencing your thinking. Be ready to use the Secret Power of the Pause to reflect on every decision and thought process to make better, less biased decisions.
Payoff Being aware of your own biases will also make you aware of others – not to fix them — that is NOT your job. But to be aware and make sure that you re-frame your communication and be prepared to challenge unwarranted assumption or faulty thinking – with love and kindness, of course.
Prejudice is one example of cognitive bias that is most often a preconceived, unfavourable opinion about another person or group. It enables you to judge another person almost instantly based on very limited data. Which is very efficient but often seriously flawed. Yet, we all have them.
Blame your parents, upbringing, society, politicians, culture, race, language, tv, Hollywood, the Interweb, FaceBook… whatever you like, you still have biases. Some are potentially helping you make better, quicker decisions, others could be, and almost certainly are, undermining your true potential.
Your brain hates ambiguity and it's willing to take shortcuts to remove it from the situation. If there's insufficient information to go on you will use what is available and unconsciously fill in the blanks from your memories and beliefs until you recognise a pattern and come (jump) to an internal representation.
The list of cognitive biases that have been identified is incredibly long and grows monthly. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases and I've come across 10 repeatedly in my coaching with leaders that could really use your conscious attention now.
In his fabulous book, Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman shows that your brain works using two different systems, 1 and 2 (yeah, terrific names ;-)). System 1 is fast thinking – mostly unconscious, prone to biases and errors and can be exploited by others to influence your responses and choices. System 2 is slower thinking but more reliable and it is supposed to monitor System 1 but often it doesn't bother when it's feeling a bit “lazy” or it's overloaded.
And therein lies the problem.
What biases, shortcuts and heuristics have you grown and developed over your years of life and experience that aren't being monitored by you. You just carry on with your day allowing your faster, unconscious System 1 to get you through today and might not even see the trail of destruction left in your wake.
Over the past 30 plus years, I've worked with a lot of leaders, and the biases I've seen most in action can undermine your potential career as a leader and sabotage your success. They were all useful for you at some point along the way, but many have outlived that usefulness and could do with an overhaul and a serious upgrade.
Now, become consciously aware that you may be prone to making decisions using these biases, and using the secret power of the pause you can now hold onto your tongue just an extra moment or three. Is there something that you might be missing here? Is there a possible alternative viewpoint? Have I considered all the angles? And test your new decision in a different frame. How does it feel now?
Oh, and please do not concern yourself that you are taking time to think and be silent. Your audience is already beginning to think that you could just be the wisest person they know, and they are about ready to listen.
My internal state and physiology, my behaviour and actions are determined by my internal representation of the external event.
Consider the biases here and note those that you now notice that you hold and check your own thinking each time that you come across situations that may involve the use of this bias.
Useto interrupt your unconscious thought patterns and deliberately assess your thinking. Adjust your response and behaviour as needed. At the beginning, don't fret too much about your physiology, that will have already happened, but eventually, you will overcome your bias and perhaps, create new ones that serve you better.