(A 5-part series on Cognitive Biases that Waste Talent)
The Head of Sales announced this morning that the sales team would be going through a leadership development program that will include an assessment. George is concerned about what people will learn about him during the program and how it could impact his career journey.
George loves being in sales and is quite good at connecting with his clients. He has been very successful in sales because he views himself as more of a consultant than a sales person. He has hidden that he is an introvert, however, because many people in his company believe that sales people are supposed to be extroverts. Will he lose the opportunity for advancement if people know the truth?
George’s fear is well-founded. Many people in organizations believe that introverts don’t make good sales people. He likes his job: he doesn’t want to be pushed in a direction deemed more “suitable” for introverts. This is called “confirmation bias,” where people make decisions and take action based on what they believe or prejudices they have, not necessarily on the evidence before them.
What are George’s choices? Should he try to “game” the assessment so it looks like he’s an extrovert? Or should he let it come out that he is an introvert and then fight to prove his worth as a sales person? Neither solution is helpful: George will use up all his energy trying to overcome the bias and the organization will not get the best out of this successful sales person.
Confirmation bias is just one of the cognitive biases that waste talent in organizations. To make sure you see all five parts of this series, please connect with me on LinkedIn, or sign up for my newsletter, where I provide links to my articles and blog posts.
About the Author
Lorraine McCamley is the owner of Boldly Quiet Consulting and the author of the book Boldly Quiet: The Introvert’s Guide to Developing the Mindset of a Successful Leader. She spent years as an executive in the corporate world feeling that being an introvert was something to be ashamed of or fixed. She now coaches quiet professionals, helping them understand and embrace who they are so they can authentically and effectively lead others. Lorraine is a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach and holds a master’s degree in Organizational Dynamics from the University of Pennsylvania