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Marek Struszczyk

Co-Founder ManagerUp

Last modified: June 6th, 2024

Have you ever hired the wrong person, misinterpreted important information, or made choices based on emotions instead of facts? These hidden biases can really hurt your work and cause you to miss out on opportunities, make bad plans, and even create an unfair workplace.

But hey, you’re not alone, lots of people struggle to avoid biases – a study found that over half of executives admit their decisions are affected by personal biases. These biases can sneak into our choices without us even realizing it.

And there’s good news! You can train your mind to recognize and avoid biases with mindfulness. It can help you make better, more objective decisions, enhance your focus, reduce stress, and see things more clearly. In the following, you’ll get to learn the amazing mindfulness techniques that will help you to actually avoid biases. 

Technique #1: Practice Daily Self-Reflection for Better Decision Making

Avoid Biases 
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Executives are good at making decisions, but even they have hidden biases that they might not know about. This lack of self-awareness is a big deal because it can make them less effective leaders and harm their teams.

To fix this, there’s a simple technique called Mindful Self-Reflection. It means taking some time each day to think about what you did, what you thought, and the choices you made. By doing this, executives can start to see any patterns of bias in their thinking.

One good way to do this is by writing in a journal at the end of each day. Write down the decisions you made and why you made them. This will help you spot any patterns and figure out if your biases affected your choices.

Making mindful self-reflection a habit helps executives uncover these hidden biases, allowing them to make better, fairer choices. This not only makes them better leaders but also helps create a more inclusive and productive workplace.

Research demonstrated that mindfulness meditation can reduce implicit biases, such as racial and age biases, by promoting a more reflective and less automatic decision-making process

Technique #2: Integrate Micro-Mindfulness Practices Throughout Your Day

Avoid Biases 
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Executives often have very busy days filled with meetings, deadlines, and important responsibilities. Finding time for mindfulness can seem impossible with such a packed schedule. People often think mindfulness means long meditation sessions, which discourages busy professionals from even trying it.

The answer is to use Micro-Mindfulness Practices. These are short, easy exercises that can fit into a busy day. They focus on quick, effective practices that don’t take much time.

For example:

  • Mindful Breathing: Before a meeting, take 2 minutes to focus on your breath. Breathe in deeply through your nose, hold it, and breathe out slowly through your mouth. This simple exercise can clear your head and get you ready for the meeting.
  • Gratitude Practice: During lunch, think about three things you’re grateful for that day. This can make you feel more positive, reduce stress, and improve your mood.

These micro-practices show that mindfulness doesn’t have to take a lot of time to be helpful. By adding short, mindful moments into their day, executives can see big benefits without messing up their schedules. This makes mindfulness easy and practical, encouraging them to do it regularly and become more mindful and balanced leaders.

 A study found that short, frequent mindfulness practices, such as mindful breathing, significantly reduce stress and enhance emotional regulation in high-stress occupations 

Technique #3: Use Mindfulness Apps and Tools for Consistent Practice

Avoid Biases 
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Starting mindfulness can be exciting, but keeping it up can be hard. Many executives start with good intentions, but their busy lives get in the way, and they stop practicing mindfulness.

Mindfulness apps and tools like Headspace and Calm can help. They offer structured programs, reminders, and guided sessions to keep you on track.

Without consistency, the benefits of mindfulness, like less stress and better focus, can disappear. It’s common for busy people to start and stop practicing mindfulness because other things become more important. This can stop executives from fully using mindfulness and getting the long-term benefits.

Mindfulness apps are designed to solve this problem. They provide:

  • Reminders: Regular notifications remind you to take a mindfulness break.
  • Guided Sessions: Whether you have 3 minutes or 30, these apps have guided meditations for any schedule.
  • Progress Tracking: Many apps track your practice, showing you how you’ve improved over time, which can help you stay motivated.

By using mindfulness apps, executives can practice regularly even with busy schedules. These tools make it easier to remember to practice and provide guidance and support, making mindfulness a sustainable and important part of their daily lives. This leads to better decisions, less stress, and better leadership skills.

A randomized controlled trial demonstrated that mindfulness apps like Headspace and Calm significantly improve mindfulness, and well-being, and reduce stress in users, even with brief daily sessions.

Technique #4: Implement a Mindful Decision-Making Framework for Fair Decisions

Avoid Biases 
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Executives often know about mindfulness, but using it during stressful decisions can be tough. The difference between understanding mindfulness and using it when it matters most can be huge. This can lead to quick decisions that aren’t well thought out, causing problems for the team and company.

A structured Mindful Decision-Making Framework can help. This framework encourages executives to pause, think, and then act mindfully, making sure their decisions are well-considered and fair.

When you’re busy and have lots of decisions to make, it’s easy to fall back into old habits of making biased decisions. The challenge is remembering to use mindfulness when you need it most – during those important moments.

Here’s a simple framework for mindful decision-making:

  1. Pause: When you have to decide, stop for a ‘mindful minute.’ Close your eyes and take three deep breaths.
  2. Reflect: Think about the decision. Who will it affect? Are you leaning towards a choice because of personal biases? Write down your thoughts if you need to.
  3. Act with Awareness: Make your decision based on what you thought about. Make sure you’re not just reacting, but thinking it through.

By using this framework, executives can make sure their decisions are more balanced, thoughtful, and free from unconscious biases. This mindful way of making decisions not only makes decisions better but also creates a more thoughtful and inclusive leadership style, which is good for the whole company.

A study found that a structured approach to mindful decision-making helps leaders make more ethical and unbiased decisions, contributing to better organizational outcomes

Technique #5: Conduct Feedback and Reflection Sessions to Track Mindfulness Impact

Avoid Biases 
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One of the challenges executives face is measuring how much mindfulness helps avoid biases. Unlike sales numbers or productivity, the benefits of mindfulness are often subtle and hard to measure.

To address this, Feedback and Reflection Sessions can be implemented. These sessions involve getting regular feedback from peers and team members about changes in behavior and decision-making, combined with personal reflection on these insights.

Mindfulness changes happen gradually, not overnight. This slow progress can make it hard for executives to tell if it’s working, which can be frustrating and make them give up.

Implementing Feedback and Reflection Sessions

  • Preparation: Before each session, gather notes on recent decisions and mindfulness practices. Think about areas where you believe bias may have been reduced or where it might still be present.
  • Feedback Collection:
    • Anonymous Surveys: Give short, anonymous surveys to team members, asking specific questions about your decision-making and any changes they’ve noticed.
    • Direct Feedback: In team meetings, create a safe space for honest and constructive feedback.
  • Reflection:
    • Self-Assessment: Think about the feedback and compare it with your own observations. Identify patterns and things to improve.
    • Discussion: Share your thoughts with a trusted colleague or mentor to get more perspectives and advice.
  • Action Plan:
    • Based on feedback and reflection, create a plan to address any biases and use more mindfulness.
    • Set specific goals to track progress over time.

By doing these feedback and reflection sessions, executives can better understand how mindfulness is helping them and continue to improve their approach to reducing biases. This structured method provides a clearer picture of progress and helps them stay motivated to keep practicing mindfulness.

Final Thoughts

Mindfulness is a powerful tool that can help executives to avoid biases and make better decisions. By incorporating amazing mindfulness techniques like self-reflection, quick mindfulness exercises, and helpful apps, executives can overcome the challenges of staying mindful in their busy lives. 

By regularly checking in with themselves and their teams, executives can measure their progress and continue to grow as mindful leaders. Embracing mindfulness can not only reduce biases but also lead to better decision-making, less stress, and a more positive workplace for everyone.

The key is to simply begin. Start small, and with practice, mindfulness will reveal your hidden biases, paving the way for improved decision-making, reduced stress, and a happier workplace. So, take the first step towards mindful leadership today, and experience the positive impact it can have on both your work and your life.


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