Programa GAIA

Master in Decision Making & Innovation

Hi, Gaians!

After you have submitted all the stages related with the unit Skills that Matter, we want to give you some feedback about this activity. But before we start with that, we would like to tell you that our main goal was that you learnt something worthy and that these contents meant something to you, have we got it?

This activity had many surprises and it required your attention if you wanted to be completely absorbed into it, let’s get started:

The first thing you received was a video of Chris Green, a CEO of Family Care Canada, this video was accompanied by a survey where you had to assess some items related with leadership skills (whether the CEO was competent, knowledgeable, likeable or strong). We will analyze your answers later on.

After you were done with the survey you had to read a whole case about Chris Green and then answer some questions related with leadership, decision making processes, leadership evaluation, leader characteristics and leadership effectiveness.

The goal of these questions was that you analyzed the decision Chris Green had to take about balancing short term need to execute a specific marketing campaign in a tight timeline versus respecting the values and beliefs of the member chapters. If you answered this question perfectly you will have talked about the risks, benefits and possible consequences of this decision. For example, extensive consultation with the chapters and board might take considerable time, extending the length of the decision-making process, thereby reducing the amount of time available for execution. Too much time spent in consultation could result in the campaign being of inferior quality, or not being delivered on time.

The question about the most important characteristics of a leader was interesting and totally subjective. It was curious how many of you used male role models when talking of a “good leader” and how many of you listed male leaders as good examples of leadership. It’s amazing how gender role stereotyping unconsciously influenced your answers.

Regarding the question about how effective the approach of Chris Green’s leadership was you had to take into account the context and think that in a non-profit organization, mission, values and collaboration have a much more significant role. It was perfect if you realised that Chris’ leadership approach works particularly well when there is time for extensive time for consultation and decision-making. More urgent decisions may require a more directive approach that Chris does not appear to feel comfortable with. Apart from that, you had to identify aspects like authenticity, moral reasoning, moral action, sense of mission and interconnectedness, vision, trust, and empowerment.

After you were done with this extensive analysis of Chris Green, the mystery was finally resolved. There were actually 4 different videos and each person got to see only one of them. You didn’t know that the rest of the videos even existed. The 4 videos had the exact same audio but the character was different and only one of them was the actual Chris Green, an African-Canadian woman. The rest of the videos were played by actors and there were: an African-Canadian man, a Caucasian woman and a Caucasian man.

These are the results of the first survey you filled in after watching the video you have been assigned:

Although the results were better than what we had in mind, this led to an interesting analysis,…

Let’s start with the issues you had to cover when you found out there were 4 videos and Chris Green was actually an African-Canadian woman.

You had to talk about the implicit leadership theories that we unconsciously hold and relate that with both cultural and personal experiences.

Some of you realised that these videos lowered your evaluations of the leaders when comparing to what you read the case at the beginning and others said that there were differences between the videos and that now you would answer these previous questions differently.

It was perfect if you talked about stereotypes, women’s leadership, cognitive biases and cultural influences as well.

Some of you talked about the differences among the videos and that may have affected your assessments (tone of voice, body language, appearance). All these details influence how we evaluate people, most of the times unconsciously.

We recommend that you take a look to the following “best” practices before evaluating anything. Biases exist and we have to learn to live with them:

  • Educate yourself and decision makers on bias. Raising awareness can reduce reliance on stereotypes.
  • Establish clear criteria in advance of making decisions.
  • Ask yourself about the criteria being used. Are these the right criteria for the decision? Or, do they unintentionally screen out certain candidates or outcomes?
  • Explain your decisions about people to others.

Before we reach the end we want to bring up the “privilege” topic. If you are both a Caucasian and a man, think about the following: one of the aspects of privilege is that we are often unaware of our privilege because it is normal to us. Since we aren’t aware that others are treated differently, because we do not have their experiences, we assume that our experience is the same as that of other groups. Do you agree?

Finally, we would like to challenge you to complete one of the following tests, do you dare?

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