Bias, CQ: What Is It, & Why Should You Care, Coaches & Leaders? One of the reasons you became a coach (or leader), like me, might have been your desire to help build a world of harmony, where each person and organization can live up to its full potential.
As much as we try to be caring, supportive and judgment free, neuroscience tells us that is impossible. We all have unconscious bias, even if we do not want to admit it.
What is bias? Simply favor towards or against certain cultural identities or groups.
Awareness is an important step and is not enough! Unmanaged bias can block your and your clients’ potential, even losing business and talent. You can learn to identify and manage your own bias, and partner with your clients and colleagues to do the same, so all can live up to their full potential.
Even as a child I noticed certain cultural groups being treated unfairly, which broke my heart and continues to do so (and led to my writing Breaking Free from Bias: Preventing Costly Complaints, Conflict & Talent Loss). With our increasingly connected world, we hear explosive examples of bias in the media. You may be surprised, even working and living interculturally, how much you still have to learn. “For me, having grown up very multiculturally, I did not think anyone could improve on my awareness of any unconscious bias . . . until I heard Marilyn’s message. Marilyn shared from her heart and her deep knowledge on this topic.” Chana Klein, International Coach Federation Community of Practice Leader.
For example, in coaching leaders, I frequently hear complaints about individuals talking too much or not enough in meetings. This can lead to or stem from biases against certain groups, like women, millennials, Westerners, etc. Westerners may see people not speaking up enough and label them as non-contributors, passing them up for key assignments and promotions. While Westerners may be viewed as rude and offensive for speaking up too much or out of turn. This is similar to cultural differences and biases around Direct Communication, a key coaching competency. (Coaches, register for the Essence of Mastery Coaching Summit by clicking on this Direct Communication link)
Bias is one aspect of CQ, Cultural Intelligence, the recognizing and understanding of the beliefs, values, attitudes, rank and behaviors of people with distinct cultural identities; and the resulting application of that awareness toward functioning effectively in cultural situations. Why should you care about CQ?
“CQ is a critical capability for navigating today’s increasingly global and diverse business environment. It’s so important that we made it one of our core behaviors at PwC.” —Robert Mortiz, Chair PWC, United States, with “Ninety percent of leading executives from 68 countries identify intercultural skills as among the most important capabilities required to remain competitive,” Ang, S., Van Dyne, L., & Rockstuhl, T. (2014). Cultural intelligence: Origins, conceptualization, evolution, and methodological diversity. In M. Gelfand, C. Y. Chiu & Y. Y. Hong (Eds.), Advances in culture and psychology: Volume 5. New York: Oxford University Press.
What are you observing about bias and its effects: in the media, in meetings, in public places, in yourself, your clients and workplace?
If you submit your bias stories to me, I may use some of the examples in upcoming programs. For confidentiality, please change names and any other identifiers.
I look forward to hearing from you, and to our time together in upcoming programs, coaching and (Apply Here!): strategy sessions! Discover how to break free from bias and develop the CQ competitive edge.
To our success, including building respectful cultures where all can unlock their potential,
Marilyn O’Hearne, MSW, MCC, LLC
Master Certified Coach, International Coach Federation
Culturally Intelligent Executive, Leadership, Team and Mentor Coaching, Coaching Supervision: Unlocking Potential, Prosperity and Peace.