Good Leaders Check Their Biases

We all have biases. We all have things we prefer and things we dislike. The problem is that biases cause us to have blind spots.

We overlook problems in things we like and see problems where they don’t exist in things we don’t like. There is a term for this. It’s called rationalizing. Deciding why you like or don’t like something after we’ve decided that we like or don’t like it, whatever it is.

We see this most clearly in the political realm where political opponents and their supporters are flinging mud every which way – even onto things they say they support, if their opponents like them. This is why – changing your mind in politics – is called flip flopping.

In the real world being able to change your mind is a good thing. It helps you avoid problems and solve problems when they arise. Reality and truth matter when you are solving problems. Your biases prevent you from seeing the truth. So, a good leader understands their biases and checks them to ensure they don’t interfere with decision making.

This is harder to do than most people realize because, as it turns out, a lot of our biases are unconscious. We don’t even know we have them! We rationalize our decisions without even realize we are doing so. Even people who pride themselves on not being biases or bigoted do this.

The only way to counteract these biases is to become aware of them. Fortunately, Harvard’s Implicit Bias Project has some free online tests you can take to find out what your hidden biases are so that you can come to terms with them and start working on fixing them. See:

For people whose job requires them to treat everyone they meet fairly – which is pretty much everyone in the workforce, but especially those in hiring and management – you need to understand how your unconscious biases are impacting your behavior towards others.

We have systemic problems with discrimination in this country. We discriminate against the disabled and old people. We discriminate because of people’s skin tone and weight. We discriminate against people because of their sexuality or sexual expression and because of religion and ethnic.

The problem is so bad we have enacted laws to stop it. And still the problem persists and infects every area of our social lives (hiring, education, law enforcement, health care access and more).

Very few Americans think they are part of the problem. Other people discriminate. They don’t. The reality is we all do this. We all have these biases. If you truly want to help be part of the solution, find out what your biases are so that you can stop acting on them, consciously.
 Uncovering and Controlling Your Unconscious Bias

To learn more about the science of this and how you can use this information to improve your own behavior and responses so that you aren’t accidentally part of the problem take this free online course – Uncovering and Controlling Your Unconscious Biases at:  It takes about 2 hours to complete and includes the free online implicit biases tests. And if you want to take this for self study credit – we do offer letters of participation.

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