“My point is that perceptual bias can affect nut jobs and scientists alike. If we hold too rigidly to what we think we know, we ignore or avoid evidence of anything that might change our mind.” —Martha Beck
By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM
Martha Beck makes a great point in the above quote; this rigid thinking results in the biases that prevent us from considering anything that goes against what we think we already know. As a leader, your biases not only impact you on a personal level, but your employees, your teams, and your organization as a whole. Take a moment and consider what impact your bias might be having on your leadership.
Content with the status quo
When we think we know everything it’s very easy to become content with the status quo. If things should be done differently, we, of course, in our ultimate wisdom would have already made the necessary changes. Becoming content with the status quo can be a death sentence for any organization competing in a quick, innovative market. Never allow your own rigid, biased thinking result in becoming content with the status quo.
Your biases can taint your view of current situations and issues; biases often result in tunnel vision. When you have tunnel vision, not only are you unable to see the big picture or events happening outside of your perceptual view, but you might not even see the obstacles standing in your way. Do not allow your biases to cause you to develop tunnel vision.
Sunk cost conundrum
Getting stuck in the sunk cost conundrum can stem from your refusal to admit that something you once stood behind is not working or to give up on a pet project. Once you choose to stand behind something, your biases can prevent you from admitting that you would have made different decisions if you knew then what you know now. Never let your biases suck you further into the sunk cost conundrum.
Fear of losing control
It’s common for leaders to fear losing control. This fear exacerbates the problem of biased thinking. The fear of losing control feeds into our refusal to question the status quo, to develop tunnel vision, and to get stuck in the sunk cost conundrum. Learn that admitting that you were wrong or that you do not have all the answers actually gives you power rather than taking it away. When you are real with your employees, not only do you earn their respect and trust, but you open yourself up to benefiting from their knowledge and experience. Don’t let your biased thinking to cause you to fear losing control.
Stop Impacting Your Leadership
Martha Beck’s quote is worth repeating, “If we hold too rigidly to what we think we know, we ignore or avoid evidence of anything that might change our mind.” As a leader, your effectiveness is dependent on your ability to see and consider evidence that you need to question the status quo, eliminate your tunnel vision, take the sunk cost hit, and stop fearing the loss of control. Stop allowing your biased thinking to impact your leadership.
© 2016 Elizabeth Stincelli
Liz Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the Founder of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations engage employees and improve organizational culture. Liz holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.
Learn more about Liz by visiting her website, stincelliadvisors.com and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.