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My candid thoughts about teams and leadership. 

You Are Fabulous

I recently attended a women-in-leadership event that was, overall, a wonderful event. There was energy in the room, the women were talkative, and the speaker was informative and funny. It’s what we all expect when women come together. What made it interesting was the ice breaker.

As we entered the room, we were encouraged to select a name tag that had an adjective that we thought described us or something we uniquely bring into our leadership, our teams, or our homes. There were words like fabulous, persistent, spunky, courageous, witty, and etcetera. It was a very creative activity and helped each of us confidently express what we believed to be one of our most valuable traits.

I loved the activity because it counteracted what often happens in a room full of women: comparison! I suspect everyone battles, at times, the temptation to compare oneself to others. I think women are especially prone to this. We begin to look around at a room full of women and we see all the fabulous things they do that we don’t. The comparisons begin and the confidence drops. Thankfully, at this event, as we began to bow our heads in shame, there sat the name tag to remind us of our own fabulousness—outgoing, sassy, friendly, observant, and etcetera.

To top it off, there was a silly door prize given for each adjective. Nothing fancy, just your typical “dollar store” prizes like a plastic princess crown for being “fabulous.” LOVED IT! But, here’s where it got interesting … The prizes actually had unconscious bias against certain personalities. Instead of a prize that supported the adjective, certain adjectives received, well, a “booby prize.” For example, our sassy friends received tape. Although it was a tad bit funny, it actually sent a message that our sassy friends should shut up and their trait wasn’t quite as wonderful as other traits.

Notice I said the prizes presented an unconscious bias. Meaning, our wonderful hostesses didn’t even realize they did it. We all have unconscious biases in our lives. When things are comfortable to us, we will favor them because they are more familiar and easier to understand. As leaders, however, we need to learn to overcome our unconscious biases. One of the best ways I have learned to do this is to look for the person who isn’t like me and get to know them.

Take my friend, Jill, for example. We served on a committee together. This committee had a lot of talkers and a lot of people with opinions. Jill, on the other hand, was quiet and contemplative. Her opinion could have been easily overlooked and bypassed. Instead, I made an extra effort to ask her what she thought before decisions were made. I learned a great deal from her about patience and staying focused on the topic at-hand. She spoke far fewer words than everyone else on the committee but the words she spoke were always well-thought-out and insightful.

Who might you have an unconscious bias toward? Consider making an extra effort to get to know them, you might be surprised what you learn!

Susan Rozzi is the president of Rozzi and Associates, a leadership and organizational development company helping good leaders become great! Our programs start with the premise that great leadership skills are a product of time, practice and focused development. Our leadership development, emotional intelligence insight and career management programs can be customized to meet your desired outcomes and needs. Contact Susan at susan@rozziandassociates.com.

Susan Rozzi