Purposeful Talent Development: Bias can hold you back

How 4 kinds of unconscious prejudices can get in the way of our learning—and how to mitigate their impact.

I’ve been engaging in a lot of conversations lately about bias. Any bias we hold, especially unconscious bias, influences our daily interactions via perspectives we seek, ways we communicate, ideas we endorse, and even whether we choose to promote or help develop another person. We make daily decisions that are, many times, simple reactions that keep us functioning. But, left unexamined, these decisions can chain us to our comfort zone and limit our success.

Recently reflecting on my own biases, I wondered what I may have missed out on in my life because a bias led me away from an experience, an encounter, a conversation or greater self-awareness. A bias, unconscious or not, can impact not just relationships but how well we can develop and grow. As a leader, it is valuable to recognize how your biases may reduce your development. You may also be able to help your staff see how their bias may limit their development.

Here are some common types of bias that can impact our ability to develop and learn, along with a few tips for mitigating them. Use these for your own development or to support the development of your staff/team.

  • Confirmation bias favors ideas that confirm our existing beliefs. This type of bias can limit the experiences or opinions we seek out, holding us to what we believe will happen, and limiting our ability to see a fuller picture or to gather accurate data. We can often shut down new experiences or diverse perspectives if they do not align with our beliefs.



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