Over time, I have come to
appreciate naturally occurring bias more and more in developing postmodern
leaders. As we discover hardwiring revealed in each of our behavioral system
dynamics, there is more non-conscious activity than we realize guiding our
behavior. Biases and filters are particularly important.
In large part, BIAS effects—positive and negative—are going to emerge out of the framing of our personality and the interchange with self-knowledge possible through capability.
Capability can be a trump card, when one has it available and conditions of overwhelming tension are absent, otherwise, bias reigns. This idea is important to scaffolding bias in leaders.
The other important factors in BIAS are “surround” or ground — as in figure and ground, or “culture” as many refer to the crucible in which bias develops. The type of bias is important, such as, is one biased to extraversion or introversion, as an example. I’ve seen a lot of non-aware introverts (bias) seem more aware, just by the fact they don’t need to express to contemplate, allowing the biased extraverts to play the fool—again, as their needs to “think out loud” uncover their lack of awareness and naturally occurring bias. The scaffolding for extraversion and introversion are much different in practice, and understanding the “nature” of bias is important.
Personality Dynamics ARE Important
One idea which emerges in consideration of bias, is to give the leader and the persons concerned with leadership, the tools necessary to discover, disclose, and accept through engagement—natural bias and filters—that are non-consciously emerging as — more than likely — hard-wired signals. Bias is naturally occurring and important in leadership.
Scaffolding bias is critical for the postmodern leader.
Many have and will “disclaim” personality dynamics as irrelevant in leader development. Yet clearly, there are distinct advantages to incorporating bias— more particularly through psychoactive self-knowledge experiences.
While the sky seems to be the limit in regard to modeling the behavioral economics associated with personality models, over the past decade — again channeling Occam — I have settled into about 6-9 models which all have part of the solution, not the final solution.
When the models go much higher than 6-9, we run into recall issues and the additional data you get is unnecessary in explaining most of the bias, filters, and projections we are likely to show consistently in our leader behavior. Some of us still have challenges with our phone numbers at 10 digits, and almost no one can repeat their credit card number at 16!
These 6-9 systems can be pushed a little higher or reduced somewhat depending on resources, but the package of “discovery tools” I use, is listed below. I won’t go into why here, but in general, I have used systems which either through their statistical modeling, or popularity provide data which can be used in broad categories for objectifying our bias, filters, and projections. Eventually, the use of artificial intelligence will help us consolidate this process for objectifying bias in the future. For now, this process seems least cost.
Perception Is Reality
These biases mostly emerge as our beliefs about how reality shows up for us. While many keep looking for the theory of everything, I have realized with accelerating complexity no theory of everything exists. The idea is to use the fewest resources to get the greatest number of benefits, even if those results don’t model reality perfectly. The amount of cost to increase the probability that we are more right is not worth the price that we have to pay, or the time we have to invest.
Risk Means More Data Required!
For leaders in functional, general business, and enterprise Levels—it’s wise in my view, to increase the amount of data one can reveal about oneself and others in the leadership network continuously over time as part of a developmental scaffold.
Whatever you use, it’s important to be able to articulate it and weave it into daily leader practices—work and play—for experiential learning and assimilation.
All Self-Knowledge and corresponding Self-Awareness practices reveal developing layers of Knowledge, Skill, and Experience (KSE) and it takes some time to develop a language of how, to speak about one’s KSEs with others. These assessments provide that language of discovery, explanation, prediction, design and scaffolding.
Here is a list of the current models I use to gather BIAS data quickly:
• Learning Styles (Kolb)
• Conflict Mode (Thomas-Kilmann)
• Big Five Traits (Psychology’s Occam’s razor for Traits).
• Motivation (Reiss Profile)
• Type Dynamics (MBTI Step II)
• Meta-programs (NLP) (iWAM)
• Talent Themes (Strengthsfinder/Gallup)
• Enneagram (Riso-Hudson) – Optional
Using “Bias Patterns” to Design and Scaffold
Each of these models will claim to be the only one you need, and that their assessment model or patterns can predict the others — as their basis of validity. But, I have found each of these models has particularly important high points that must be preserved. All interdependently reinforce the “density and frequency” of the patterns of bias—which we need for design and scaffolding work.
Density and Frequency refer figuratively to quality and quantity, and literally, to the number of connections or ways something can be done (density) and the number of times, or how often it is used (frequency). Density and frequency are too important filters for scaffolding behavior and designing systems to scaffold behavior.
Data Mining Leader OS
Out of these assessment models comes data that can, for the most part, predict a large amount of the biases, filters, and meaning-making apparatus that exists — if not hardwired as inborn; epigenetically soft-wired into our behavioral architecture — mostly non-conscious.
It’s like the operating system our computers run on. We are familiar with the applications programs, examples like WORD, or EXCEL, but seldom do we see evidence (except when systems crash) of the underlying code (Windows or Apple OS) on which the applications are running.
Determinism, more than likely, plays an important relationship in the conceptual nature of understanding human behavior because of the hardwiring emerging from our epigenetic architecture — even when that architecture has wired into it plasticity for adaptation.
Culture does often constrain and enable behavior, but most usually, inborn wiring peeks through, if you know where to look and what to look for when assessing construction or native influences.
The non-PC (Political Correctness) effect is that at less complex levels of capability, coupled with lesser-sophisticated scaffolding, leader behavior is going to be predictably deterministic because of (lack of or presence of Self-knowledge and corresponding Self-Awareness) the inability to evaluate our meaning-making on the fly, which occurs as capability increases. At least that is what I see happening in myself and others I coach and guide in development around the world.
Compassion and Caution are Necessary Tools
Using this bifurcation of “self-knowledge” often typified by the presence or lack of capability brings about increasing concern and compassion for everyone I encounter. My goal here is not to appease political correctness but to provide the basis for the modeling, design, and scaffolding of more complex leader behavior.
While the lack of “PC” will certainly delay uptake of these design tools, it doesn’t shift the notion that in all probability — until we find a new way to describe reality, or augment it — these ideas are important to the people working in, around, and among various levels of leadership to accomplish improvements in the human conditions… to help people have lives.
Emergence of Leader Style
From out of bias emerges a behavioral style. Again out of eggs, flour, sugar, yeast, temperature, and a container; emerges a cake of sorts, which then can be assessed and used to predict and explain how a leader is likely to be seen by others; as biases themselves almost always are revealed over time through behavioral style.
This revelation is most easily categorized as “leader style.” Many have written about leader style, but in my view, a leader’s style Is most likely going to create affect, sentiment, attunement, mood, etc., which are increasingly important as the why becomes as important as the what and how in postmodern organizational design.
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Mike R. Jay is a developmentalist utilizing consulting, coaching, mentoring and advising as methods to offer developmental scaffolding for aspiring leaders who are interested in being, doing, having, becoming, and contributing… to helping people have lives.
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