Nowadays we speak much about leadership. People we call leaders have the tough job to engage others, to influence positively for results, to build a positive environment. Some of these leaders succeed in this, but others fail dramatically. People expect from leaders too much. They see them as a guiding light in their paths. Leaders don’t have to make mistakes. They can’t be wrong about anything.
But guess what – the leader’s people often admire also make mistakes, they sometimes plan to fail instead of succeeding. There are situations when those leaders can’t make an impact, or just don’t know how to answer to a situation.
Leaders are people, and they make mistakes. Even the best or most influential of them cannot skip it.
In a short survey conducted from Gallup in 2017, 4600 leaders were asked what are they often experiencing when have to make a decision. More than 65% of them admit that they experience lack of self-confidence when dealing with disagreement, and the other 35% admit that the feeling they experience in situations like that is very close to real fear. YES, you see it right -FEAR.
Some of these leaders try to avoid disagreements in order not to face their fears. Other try to fight fears by becoming overly righteous or dominating, or wearing a mask of the “pleasing leader”. The majority of all these leaders often regret the way they have used to behave and лутат се between how should or shouldn’t they behave, what was right or wrong in their behavior in a particular situation, etc.
This experience is rarely shared with colleagues or discussed in development plans. It mainly shreds with external consultants or coaches. That often leads to a misunderstanding of the level of frustration or lack of self-confidence in leaders behavior and can be the cause for them making major mistakes harming performance and business results.
In life, we can identify three biases that make us feel stressed and ineffective in dealing with emotionally powered conversations or disagreements upon our decisions or way of working These major biases can cause mistakes in form of inappropriate behaviors who can affect the ability to deal with disagreements in a constructive and positive way.
Unfortunately, there is a negative trend that the more we experience ineffectiveness the less we feel self-confidence. That increases our stress levels and anxiety. If we become aware of the 3 biases that are leading our behavior, we can break the negative spiral and overcome the anxiety. Here I want to share with how I have identified the three biases and what are my tools to deal with them.
In our lives, we tend to by instinct focus on weaknesses rather than strengths and achievements. It looks like if in our inner self we are wired with the negativity. Even if we experience a small difference of opinion perceived, our body is automatically activated as by alert. Except if we are aware that this is a reflex, we might believe that that there is a real threat and we are under attack.
When we unconscionably suspect a threat there are two things happening: our body takes a fight position and we start to behave in a way as we are ready to face the fear and unconsciousness coming. These are the most obvious reasons to escalate a conflict. The defensiveness of the other person “confirms” our perception and we become “truly” aware that we are facing a threat and start acting even more defensively. This phenomenon is called “self-fulfilling prophecy”, or with other words, we act in a way that makes our prediction looks true.
To overcome the negativity bias you can use the following four steps:
- Recognize– focusing on positive outcomes can help you to easily recognize the negative bias.
- Declare – this means to focus on saying loud how you feel. This will help you hear and understand your emotions
- Pause– this means to stop, YES – STOP. Don’t rush on the decision on how to solve the negativity, instead of that think how to overcome the defensive reaction emerging in you.
- Breath – this is more like a yoga technique. Breathing bias means to calm yourself and start thinking clearly about the situation and the bias seeing it from different perspectives.
This bias is also a mechanism of self-protection for the person. It looks like an overconcern about our responsibility and identification with the work we do. When we are confronted with an issue, we may be ashamed to not be able to resolve it by ourselves and need others to help with it. When that happens we kind of lose the sense of perspective and deceive ourselves with the belief that we must control and master everything and protect our image at any cost.
You can recognize the EGO bias by looking for the following signs:
- You move all dialogs into your head by trying to answer al unspoken questions;
- Other people start to look like obstacles to you;
- You become more self-conscious and self-righteous;
- You start exaggerating the seriousness of the issue;
- You feel exhausted and fatigue;
To minimize the effect of the EGO bias you may need to use some additional techniques such as:
- Asking yourself questions about “Are you talking only to yourself?”, Can you ask someone else etc?
- Try to remember moments when you felt influencing and happy and re-capture those feelings in the current moment
- Verbalize your feelings instead of keeping them only in your head
- Accept yourself the way you are, without any need for a significant change to reduce stress
Ego and negativity are obvious biases, that you can easily recognize. They are often seen in your behavior by others who point on them by giving feedback, sharing experience, etc. The rationality bias is different from the previous two. This bias is the hardest you will need to overcome. To recognize that you are rationality bias you must look more inside you than in others and the situations. To recognize the presence of a rationality bias, you can look at the following signs:
- You think that if you provide enough information, everyone will come to the same conclusion as you;
- You think that if you conduct excellent preparation there is no reason to not reach an agreement;
- You take the guilt for failing with you;
- At the end of a conversation your position didn’t change;
- If you fail, your best decision will be to prepare better next time;
- You start thinking like if you are unappreciated or fear that you won’t be capable to do a particular job and you start thinking in a negative way;
- You have no idea what others, involved in the discussion felt or experienced because you never actually asked them. All you have as output are your assumptions and interpretation of the situation.
The rationality bias can take you on a dangerous path. When suffering from this bias, people involved think that they are right and everyone else, taking part in the discussion, will come to the same conclusion. That leads to pushing others to “convince” with their view and logic. And this often leads to confrontation and conflict. If you want to change this you must look at the signs often, to avoid failing in the most dangerous of the three biases, every leader’s faces.
The world today is a fast-moving place. If you want to survive in the workplace the change must be a constant factor in your behavior. Leader or not, the person who doesn’t change misses opportunities for progress. If you don’t want to stay back you should focus on looking for opportunities to upgrade yourself. The best way to seize these opportunities by increasing your self-awareness on the things that may stop or slow your personal change. The three biases, described here are only part of the changing factors you must recognize, to plan for success. Recognizing the three biases will give you an advantage in the fast-paced and full of increasing demands business world.