How To Uncover Our Blind Spots: Unconscious Bias In Leadership

As humans, we have some blind spots in our behaviors that we sometimes are unaware of.

Such blind spots are some things that we do yet they are not obvious to us.  Others may see them but we are blind to them.

At work, blind spots can be quite damaging.  They may result in us doing some things that are unacceptable.

Coaching can help us uncover our blind spots and become better leaders, colleagues, employees, and simply better people.

One common blind spot in leadership is unconscious bias.

The modern workplace is full of people from multiple backgrounds.

While we might think we are open-minded people, we might find that we have unconscious bias.

We can be saying things or taking actions that are discriminative to others in terms of gender, race, or other differences and we are unaware of this kind of bias.

We can also find that we unconsciously favor some people because they are similar to us but we are not aware of this; it is one of our blind spots.


Helps Us Become Aware Of Unconscious Bias

Coaching can help us become aware of possible blind spots such as unconscious bias.

For example, as a leader, we can be hiring some kinds of people because they are similar to us.  We can be doing this unconsciously.

Before we know it, we can have hired a homogenous workforce that does not benefit from diversity since everyone is so similar.

This can limit the creative potential of the organization and limit opportunities that the organization can explore.

When we become aware of unconscious bias, we can work towards coming up with a system that can help us avoid making such biased decisions in the future.

Make Decisions Based On Principles

When we become aware of possible unconscious bias at the workplace, we can be open to changing policies and make decisions based on better positions in the future.

For example, if we find that through our unawareness of blind spots we had been promoting people that are similar to us, we can focus on using a set of policies and principles to make such decisions in the future.

We can choose to have a team make promotional decisions in the future as opposed to one person.

Further, we can create policies and guidelines to be followed when making such decisions in the future.

Training And Development

One reason we are unaware of our possible blind spots is due to lack of knowledge.

Sometimes, we need someone to point out our possible blind spots so that we become aware of them.

Through regular coaching, training, and development, we can be open to exposing our blind spots and finding a way to work with them or around them.

Regular exposure to information can help us recognize and deal with unconscious bias and find ways to treat people equally without bias.

Put in Place Policies

A set of policies can help leaders not be driven by their blind sports when making decisions.

For example, policies regarding hiring people from different backgrounds will ensure that all kinds of people are represented in the hiring process and the decision is not left to the leader.

Policies pertaining to all aspects of management such as hiring, rewarding, terminating among others should be detailed enough and as clear as possible such that they can be referred to by anyone within the organization and not just the leaders.

Seek Feedback

Another way a leader can uncover blind spots is by seeking feedback.

When you are open to feedback, other people can easily spot your blind spots and let you know areas you can improve in.

It would be misleading for a leader to think that they are always right and do not possess any blind spots.

By opening up channels of communication and encouraging feedback, they open themselves up to opportunities for self-improvement.

Conclusively, since we all have different backgrounds, we can have unconscious biases that influence our decision-making. Our blind spots can be our downfalls if we are not careful. We therefore most importantly accept that it’s possible to have blind spots such as unconscious bias. We should then seek out ways to find out what these could be and try to work around them so we can be our most impartial versions at the workplace. Through training and development, coaching, seeking feedback, following written policies, and most importantly becoming aware of our possible shortcomings, we can bring our best self to work and serve our organizations in the best possible way.

The Destiny Team