𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗬𝗼𝘂 𝗗𝗼𝗻'𝘁 𝗞𝗻𝗼𝘄 𝗠𝗮𝘆 𝗛𝘂𝗿𝘁
Updated: Oct 29
Various cognitive preconceptions may influence our leadership without us knowing.
Let’s review how some powerful biases that may be affecting your decisions and discuss the best defenses against them.
Negativity bias occurs when measuring two pieces of information and the bad input far outweighs the good one.
It makes us risk adverse and slow to act by dwelling on flaws.*
Record your accomplishments weekly and revisit often
Announce wins to the team
Stop rumination if the negative comments linger
Confirmation Bias is when we readily embrace information supporting our own ideas and ignore others’ ideas.
We tend to over index on our beliefs and disregard contrary facts.
Encourage and test all new ideas
Rely on diverse people
Rank preferences privately
The Bandwagon Effect is selecting based on limited information.
For instance, the first person in a group to give their opinion anchors the thoughts of others.
Ask for suggestions and ranking privately
Avoid decisions based on competitors' actions
Revisit your values when making hard choices
Affinity Bias is when we prefer people who look and think like us.
The bias can occur in hiring, promotions, and terminations.
Ensure diverse applicants, objective criteria, and unbiased screening
Review promotions and bonuses across demographics for parity
Confirm training and other perks are fairly distributed
Framing Effect is the tendency to see any information through the lens by which it is first presented and ignoring other options.
When only one candidate is presented to hire, we are tempted sorely to consider them over no one. Instead, wait for the best person.
Open discussions to a range of possibilities
Have the team present the problem first and later offer solutions
Use pre-determined standards to later evaluate job performance
Loss Aversion Bias
Loss Aversion (or Sunk Cost) occurs when we stick with choice longer than we should due to an emotional investment.
We hesitate to stop a major project or to fire someone because it’s difficult to cut our losses, even if it’s best to move forward.
Evaluate programs on a go-forward basis based on the metrics
Review performance objectively against set measures
Engage outside resources not grounded by legacy thinking
We often confuse comfort for confidence. Learn to question your assumptions. Knowing that you may be misled, here are a couple more tips:
🧠 Challenge yourself to learn with data and through other perspectives
🧠 Identify how each bias may be impacting your behavior and success
🧠 Revisit this list quarterly
🧠 Assign a “devil’s advocate” to best capture potential risks, especially with a large decision
Knowing cognitive biases exist will encourage you to make stronger decisions that are more likely to benefit you and the business in the longer term.
* Studies show that it takes at least five good encounters to offset the feeling from one bad one: http://bit.ly/3iH3EwI
For a full list of cognitive biases, check here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases
Illustration by Elisa Riva who can be found here: https://www.instagram.com/elisa_riva/