“Good managers have a bias for action.”
No one ever said it was easy being the boss. In addition to being the point person you are also the fall guy (or gal). People expect a lot from you and whether you are dealing with employees, clients or higher-ups’ they all tend to come from a place of take-take-take. Overall it can be an exhausting position to handle…but are certain factors wearing you out more than others?
While you may be a manager, you need to keep in mind that you are human too. Even if you are not consciously aware of them, hidden biases can affect your decision-making and leadership ability. This is why it is important to be aware of situations where your personal (sometimes even hidden) biases try to take over. Read on to learn how to discover your professional biases and more important, how to overcome them.
Lay Your Biases On The Table
Chances are you hired people onto you team because they shared similar ideals and fostered an attitude that matched your work place. This is common, people tend to gravitate toward people they can relate to; the tendency to act this way actually reinforces your natural biases. The same thing might happen when dealing with clients or higher-ups’, you want those people to get along with you and might not even realize that your compliance is causing you to adopt their own preferences.
The first step in uncovering your biases is to discover the emotion(s) behind them. Say for example, that you hate pitching new clients; your bias requires you to avoid the pitch process at all costs. Now, try to think back to when that “hate” first started. Perhaps in the past you were publicly embarrassed and ridiculed by a client who did not like your pitch.
If you can come to terms with those emotions (embarrassment, shame) that are connected to your prejudice, then you have a better chance of overcoming it. Just because you had a bad pitch experience in the past, does not mean that history is going to repeat itself. Strive to actively work on the professional biases that are holding you and business back.
Refresh Your Leadership Perspective
While you may be able to pinpoint how your biases are holding you back, it may be a little bit more difficult to see how they are holding your team members back too. Say for example, your distaste for gossip causes you to glaze over the office chatterbox. Just because you do not like the talkative attribute, does not mean that that employee does not have great qualities to offer. For example, your office’s social butterfly could be the perfect person to head up your social media accounts.
Flip the example; say as a talkative person, you never really connected with the shy person on your team. Without really noticing, you might pass pet projects onto people you know better because your shy co-worker never seems to come to mind. You can see here how personal biases can make you a bad boss. Just because you don’t like a quality about someone or you don’t necessarily connect to it, does not mean you should pass those people the short end of the stick.
Ask yourself, what are my natural leadership tendencies? What motivations drive those tendencies? What emotions are attached to them? With some introspective thought and exploration, your biases can come to light, and from there you can work on changing them.
It’s only natural to foster some personal biases, however you have the power to eliminate them for the better. Throughout this process, don’t undervalue the power of your team. Because of the distance, they might be able to spot those tendencies with greater ease than you can.
Share with your team that you’re trying to freshen up your leadership style. Ask them if they would be willing to share their thoughts on policies and procedures they think would benefit from being changed.
Understand that not everyone will be comfortable critiquing their boss so do your best to provide anonymity with blind feedback. By asking them what things they might like to see a change in, you could open yourself up to other biases and new opportunities for fair improvement.
What career and leadership biases have you uncovered? Share your ideas below.
Talkback: About the author:Kelly Gregorio writes about leadership trends and tips while working at Advantage Capital Funds, a merchant cash advance provider. You can read her daily business blog here.
Image courtesy of cartoon11 / Fotolia.com
“Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect other people.”
~ Jim Rohn ~
Communication is critical to your professional success. Without the ability to strategically communicate, your effectiveness within your organization will be minimized. Years of knowledge and experience mean little in the hands of someone who can’t communicate effectively.
Reading articles on executive communications, such as Marielle Segarra’s article, “How to be a Strategic Communicator: 5 Tips,” is one way to improve the effectiveness of your communications. In her article, Segarra gives CFO readers five ways they can improve communication when discussing finance with the rest of the organization. The five tips Segarra gives are: align interests, teach finance, tell a story, get to the point, and don’t go it alone.
I was pleased to be interviewed for two of these steps to more effective communication–teaching finance and not going it alone. By the end of Segarra’s article, you’ll learn how you can improve your communications through aligning your goals with that of other departments, as well as how you can teach them about finance to facilitate your communication. Telling a story to increase communication effectiveness and the importance of keeping to the point is discussed. Finally, you’ll learn that it’s important to use your organizational resources to improve your communications. Taking advantage of these five tips will help you become a strategic communicator.
“The vision is really about empowering workers, giving them all the information about what’s going on so they can do a lot more than they’ve done in the past.”
~ Bill Gates ~
Influence is an important piece of the puzzle leading to organizational success. When you wield influence, you can transform an organization through the efforts of others. You are no longer alone in seeking your goals. Instead, your work is multiplied exponentially with the help from those you influence. However, influencing others is not always an easy task.
In my post, 3 Surprising Ways to Influence Your Employees, which I wrote for Aspire Collaborative Services, I discuss how you can capitalize on the skills of the people around you by empowering them. Only when your team is empowered can you realize its true potential. It is through empowerment that you inspire others to succeed. Your confidence in your employees’ abilities gives them greater faith in themselves. It also establishes a desire in them to perform well. No one wants to let down someone who has entrusted them with an important responsibility.
To this end, in my article, I offer three ways to influence your employees through empowerment. First, you should entrust them with important tasks, along with the power to make decisions pertaining to those tasks. Second, to influence your employees through empowerment, encourage them to come up with solutions to problems your organizations is experiencing. Finally, when employee mistakes occur, leverage them into learning opportunities.
Through empowerment, you can instill confidence in those around you.