The Leader's Guide to Unconscious Bias Book Summary - The Leader's Guide to Unconscious Bias Book explained in key points
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The Leader's Guide to Unconscious Bias summary

Pamela Fuller & Mark Murphy with Anne Chow

How To Reframe Bias, Cultivate Connection, and Create High-Performing Teams

4.4 (177 ratings)
20 mins

Brief summary

"The Leader's Guide to Unconscious Bias" by Pamela Fuller, Mark Murphy, and Anne Chow helps leaders identify and address unconscious bias in the workplace through practical advice and tools.

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    The Leader's Guide to Unconscious Bias
    Summary of 6 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 6

    Move on from your biases by identifying their origin stories.

    To start with, let’s talk about you.

    We’re going to walk you through an exercise – so if you can, it might be helpful to hit pause a few times during this chapter, to give yourself some thinking time. If you can grab a pen and paper, even better.

    1. Here’s the first question. Who are you? Try to come up with five “I am” statements – ten if you have time and can write them down. I’m Hispanic, I’m male, I’m really into tennis – whatever comes to mind.

    Ready? Great. Now, ask yourself: which of those characteristics might cause you to feel biased – either positively or negatively – toward other people? Say you’re a fitness freak – do you tend to judge people who don’t take care of their body? Mark each of those characteristics – in your mind or on paper – with an X.

    Second question: which of the characteristics might make others biased toward you? If you’re Black, for example, you might very well have experienced racism. Put an O by those characteristics. Some characteristics will likely have both Xs and Os – maybe even all of them.

    Look at your list again. Think about the biases they could cause. How do these potential biases affect you? Do they get in the way of your goals? Do they make you act in a certain way?

    1. Last step. Look at each of your statements with an X – the ones that might cause you to be biased. Where do you think this potential bias comes from? From your upbringing? From the media or society more generally? From something specific in your personal history or education? Or just some aspect of your personality?

    We all have biases – lots of them. They’re tied up with our identity: who we are affects how we feel about certain issues, and hence how we think of other people. So the first step in understanding our own biases, whether they’re conscious or unconscious, is to understand ourselves.

    In other words, every bias has what you might call an origin story, and to move beyond that bias, it helps to understand that story.

    Here’s an example. One of the authors, Pamela, used to favor job applicants with prestigious degrees. Eventually, she realized there was a very personal reason why: simply put, it was her background. Coming from a family of immigrants that valued education highly, she’d always placed high-level education on a pedestal.

    Of course, the reality is that this isn’t the only indicator of capability: you need to look way beyond education on a résumé. But now Pamela realizes she holds this bias, she’s a lot more sensitive to this when she’s recruiting.

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    What is The Leader's Guide to Unconscious Bias about?

    The Leader’s Guide to Unconscious Bias (2020) is a guide to unconscious bias at work: how to identify it, and what to do about it. Leaders and managers have a particular responsibility to ensure unconscious bias doesn’t harm the careers of their team members.

    Who should read The Leader's Guide to Unconscious Bias?

    • Workplace leaders who want to take good care of their teams
    • Workers curious about how unconscious bias affects them
    • People looking to deepen their understanding of bias

    About the Author

    Pamela Fuller works at FranklinCovey, a leadership company, where she’s chief thought leader on inclusion and bias. She’s previously worked as a diversity analyst at the US Department of Defense. The other two authors are Mark Murphy and Anne Chow: Mark is a senior consultant at FranklinCovey, and Anne is CEO of AT&T Business – the first woman of color CEO in the company’s history.

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