As a follow on to my conversation with Mark McClennan, APR, Fellow PRSA on his Ethical Voices PODCAST, I offered some insight into the topic of recognizing bias.

Mark asked, “How do you work with your students and help them understand to avoid the biases they bring?”

What a great question. As leaders, how do we recognize bias in ourselves and others? And what do we do about it?

In my classes I use a simple exercise to help students recognize bias. It is called the dot exercise (something I got from a google search). To begin, I buy a selection of colored dot stickers from the dollar store. Then at the beginning of class, I ask my students for permission to place a colored dot sticker on their foreheads.

After everyone has a colored dot on their forehead, I say, “Group up.”

It’s interesting how they group up. I don’t tell them to group up by color. I don’t give them any instructions. Then the moment of revelation comes. They see, “oh, we grouped up by color” (the color of the dots on their forehead).

As a follow on, I say, “Why did you do that?”

They respond, “Well, you…” Their voices trail off as they recognize I did not give any additional instruction. That sense of, “Oh, I’m looking for people who look like me, I’m not recognizing that there are people who don’t look like me” comes front and center.

Certainly, we make a lot of judgments based on how somebody looks. I am as guilty of that, too. However, when we begin to recognize our biases then we can do something about them. Sometimes that means apologizing for our mistakes. I did that with a friend just last week.

But, what can you do to recognize your biases? And how might you take action?

Want to know more? Listen to the full Ethical Voices podcast. Need help improving your team culture? Connect with me at CaptainBarbaraBell.com.

Fly high,


Of course, check out my book, Flight Lessons: Navigating Through Life’s Turbulence and Learning to Fly High. 

#ethicalvoices, #leadership, #culture, #friendship, #relationships#womenveterans, #veterans,#coaching, #mentoring

Photo by Matt Seymour on Unsplash

Photo by Matt Seymour on Unsplash
Photo by Matt Seymour on Unsplash