Article: Overcoming leadership biases


Overcoming leadership biases

To become more versatile and adaptable leaders, individuals should actively participate in leadership programs and willingly take on challenges.
Overcoming leadership biases

The term “leader” often evokes a certain persona or imagery. However, this image is often marred with  many biases. These prejudices prevent us from recognising the real self of a leader. These biases  consequently affect how we perceive ourselves as leaders and often lead to misconceptions. These  misconceptions become the biggest impediments to our growth as leaders. Many times, we come to  believe that we lack the inherent traits necessary for leadership, leading to self-doubt. To cultivate a  new generation of confident leaders in workplaces, societies, and communities, it is essential to  confront and dismantle these biases. 

To begin with, we often hear that leaders with exceptional qualities are born leaders. It is the most  prevalent misconception, which is well entrenched in our minds, that we often attribute the success  of great leaders to innate qualities. However, this inadvertently reinforces the idea that individuals  lacking these supposedly innate traits cannot achieve leadership success. It stifles the growth mindset  of those who believe they lack these qualities. They end up limiting their own growth. 

However, much research has proved that leaders are developed through inculcating the right values,  attributes, and experiences. Many organisations actively nurture second-tier leadership by  encouraging emulation, learning, and adaptation from top-tier leaders. They understand the  importance of well-structured leadership development programs, mentorship, and executive learning  processes in molding exceptional leaders. 

The power of asking questions

Another misconception is that a leader has answers to all the questions. On the contrary, great leaders  inspire people by asking thought-provoking questions and encouraging their teams to find solutions.  As Tim Brown from IDEO notes, asking the right questions is pivotal for creative leadership. Leaders  who inquire gain clarity on their assumptions, acquire valuable business insights, and make more  informed decisions. Moreover, when leaders foster a culture of curiosity by asking insightful questions,  they promote continuous learning among their team members. Nevertheless, due to our overarching  belief that leaders must possess all-encompassing knowledge, we tend to undervalue those who ask  questions. It is about time that we embrace curious leaders as much as knowledgeable leaders to lead  to a more dynamic and adaptable culture in our ever-evolving world. 

Extrovert and introvert leaders

Another common misperception revolves around the belief that leaders are primarily extroverts.  Extroverts are often more visible due to their natural outgoing behavior, the way they conduct  themselves with their teams, and in different scenarios, creating the impression that extroversion is a  prerequisite for successful leadership. However, data reveals that introverts have also attained  leadership positions in their careers and lives. 

Extrovert leaders excel in social interactions, swiftly connecting with people, motivating teams,  providing clarity, and enhancing communication. Conversely, introvert leaders excel at empowering  team members, allowing them to shine, and maximising their abilities while still focusing on business  objectives. Introvert leaders foster inclusive cultures by attentively listening to diverse viewpoints with  empathy, making them less intimidating to employees. Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffet,  Harsh Mariwala are some of the most successful introvert leaders in the world. 


Numerous other misconceptions hinder us from recognising our potential as leaders. To overcome  these barriers, we should engage in leadership development programs, embrace insightful  observations, and place ourselves in challenging and unfamiliar situations to enhance our leadership  qualities. By dispelling these biases, we can usher in a new era of diverse, adaptable, and empathetic  leaders who thrive in our complex world.

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Topics: Leadership, Leadership Development, Leadership Solutions

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