Confirmation bias is one of the most common biases we humans are subject to. Confirmation bias is the tendency to select and perpetuate information that aligns with our existing beliefs or practices. One can see immediately how problematic this can become for our growth and interactions with others. One example of this noxious bias, is denying climate change exists despite the overwhelming amount of scientific evidence that suggest that it does. Confirmation bias also affects our interactions with others as well. We naturally gravitate to those who share similar mental models and goals and it is easy to fall into the trap of feeding echo chambers and promoting similar views to our own. A leaders job is to ensure that there is equal opportunity and that every voice is heard. Sometimes though, it is not enough to provide opportunity. There are many reasons why people may not speak up or take opportunities you present them with.  A leaders job I think, is to help remove the obstacles and blockers that people experience that stop them from reaching their full potential.  We can’t assume that just because a person has not shown interest in something that they are not interested in it (it may just be that for them there are too many perceived obstacles in the way for them to put their hand up). We need to be asking ourselves along the way if everyone is reaching their full potential. If not why not and how am I contributing to that deficit? We need to be reflective practitioners always checking to make sure our time and interest in people is not weighted to those who affirm us or make things easiest. To help avoid falling prey to confirmation bias, leaders can remove hierarchies and encourage a culture of critique and feedback. Confirmation bias is particularly resistant to self correction and so we need others to respectfully challenge our beliefs and mental models. Spend time with people who have very different views and dig deeper into why they hold these views. Invite dissonance in and learn to sit with it, it is in that discomfort that new ways of thinking emerge. Finally, question everything – especially yourself!

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