Great leaders never stop learning. They strive to develop personal traits that improve leadership skills throughout their careers. They refuse to get stuck in their ways and remain open to the challenges of an ever-changing workplace. In post-pandemic America, there are three critical areas of improvement for leaders to focus on. These apply to all leaders, irrespective of seniority and experience and are vital to improve leadership skills. 

There has never been a greater need for a more humane approach to leadership than now. The new American worker demands it. Thus, today’s leaders must focus on unconscious bias, inclusivity, and self-reflection to continue sharpening their leadership. Those who don’t will find it difficult to attract and retain top talent[1].

Leaders can no longer guide their teams with unchecked unconscious biases, a lack of workplace inclusivity, and resistance to self-reflection. Instead, they must be strong, supportive, inclusive, and empathetic to succeed. This piece examines how to be an effective leader in a rapidly shifting world.


 1) Recognize and Address Unconscious Bias

Workplace bias is often unconscious or implicit, but it can be mitigated. The young cohorts of the workforce will not put up with what they see as prejudice or harmful assumptions from their leaders. Humans are inherently biased to some degree and few acknowledge it—but leaders must if they want to remain effective and relevant going forward. There are four types of common workplace biases that can dominate leader thoughts and beliefs if left unchecked.

#1 Affinity/Mini-Me Bias

Also referred to by experts as the mini-me syndrome, this bias occurs when a leader overvalues subordinates with similar characteristics or demographics as themselves. Examples include similarities in age, style, experience, gender, race, and educational background. Favoring a mini-me in decision-making is a form of subconscious filtering. Yet it does nothing to help build the diverse talent pools needed to compete in today’s highly competitive markets.

Overcome the Mini-Me Bias to Improve Leadership Skills

To reduce this bias, challenge your initial thoughts and gut reactions to develop a more objective mindset. Remember, complementary skills and talents tend to enhance workplace efficiency. Thus, the right people for the job may be those who think, act, and learn differently from you.

#2 Recency Bias

Recency bias is a cognitive predisposition that affects a leader’s judgment. It involves making decisions based on recent events with little or no consideration for older ones. It’s giving more evaluative weight to what happened recently disproportionately influences decision-making. This short-sightedness that can create blind spots, which negatively affect leadership outcomes.

How to Overcome Recency Bias

Get outside your assumptions and review the facts. Track employee accomplishments and workplace processes over an extended timeline. This approach helps you gain a more objective perspective and make more-informed decisions. Tracking technology can be a great asset here, as data-driven decision-making is based on real-time insights. And this data-driven method helps leaders objectively assess events while reducing the blind spots and lack of foresight associated with recency bias.

#3 Overconfidence Bias


Poise is a valuable leadership trait, while overconfidence is a precarious bias. It often develops over time as a leader acquires more power and workplace influence. They become hubristic but rarely see themselves the way others do. It’s a problem because overconfident leaders tend to think they are right, even when they are wrong. That makes them hard to work with, as they are quick to blame others and slow to admit their own mistakes.

Being overconfident makes it impossible to improve leadership skills. Such people become presumptuous. They assume they know better, even when it’s not true. Leaders with an overconfidence bias are more often closed to new ideas, resist change, and stop growing.

How to Overcome Overconfidence Bias

The first step to overcoming overconfidence bias is to admit you have it. A quick way to test your bias is to take a personality assessment, either with a coach or alone. Credible personality assessments for leader will help reveal how you interpret and interact with the people and situations of your position. If you are keen to try, you have already halfway accepted ownership of this flaw [2].

Here are six proven ways to replace overconfidence with healthy self-confidence:

  1. Take an honest assessment of your skills and admit to any weaknesses
  2. Stop comparing yourself favorably to others
  3. Admit when you’re wrong, and be quick to praise others who do a great job
  4. Be more attentive to your communication style
  5. Listen intently to the feedback of others, especially their concerns
  6. Become coachable again

#4 Confirmation Bias

Confirmation-biased leaders back up their pre-existing views in any way possible to win an argument. They look for information that agrees with their stance or personal interpretation. And they rarely back down, even if new evidence suggests they are wrong. That’s a problem in leadership, as it can lead to miscommunication, conflicts, and flawed decision-making.

This graphic illustrates the dangerous, cherry-picking nature of confirmation bias.


Consider, those that challenge your beliefs, might have something valuable to contribute. They should get the chance to present their case and explain themselves. A progressive leader is open to hashing out the ideas of others rather than casting them aside without further discussion.

How to Overcome Confirmation Bias

Try to escape from your echo chamber. The only way to break away from confirmation bias is to allow yourself to be wrong. That’s easier to say than do, but it is the foundation on which you can develop a more open mind and overcome confirmation bias. So, always test your hypothesis and listen to those who see things differently. Actively listening to and fully considering different perspectives will calm discussions and open minds.

 2) Work Towards Healthy Inclusivity


An all-inclusive organization has a diverse pool of workers. Its employees feel valued and accepted by those they work with and the company they work for. There is no pressure to conform in the new American workplace. And career opportunities are open to all, regardless of backgrounds and circumstances. Studies have found that fully diverse companies financially outperform less-diverse firms. They also enjoy a 30% boost in team productivity [3] [4].

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI)

Organizations in the New American Workplace must be equitable to survive. Transformational leaders who embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and make it essential to their organization’s DNA win the respect of those they lead. 

They create a culture of fair treatment for all. DEI means removing closed doors for people with disabilities, those of a different race, gender, sexuality, and those with missing or “wrong” education or schooling. In addition, mental health is no longer treated as a taboo subject in the workplace as it once was.

EWF’s Executive Education Programs for Transformational Leadership

EWF’s educational programming offers executives comprehensive, custom corporate learning. Our first-class leadership development ecosystem focuses on the transformational leadership needed to empower people and organizations now and in the future. Our experts can design leadership development and strategy-building programs specific to your industry and culture. Moreover, we hold your executives accountable to ensure positive results and follow-through in our senior training programs.

Discover How EWF’s Executive Education Inspires and Empowers Leaders

The Role of Inclusive Leaders

What methods do you use to encourage your team? Inclusive leadership knows how to unlock individual potential and boost the collective power of work groups. Inclusive leadership at an organizational level fosters openness and visibility. Focusing on the worker is critical to the success of US companies in the post-pandemic world. But, for many, inclusive leadership is incompatible with the old ways of leadership and needs to be learned.

How to Become a More Inclusive Leader

Inclusive leaders celebrate different perspectives and get others to follow their guidance. But many leaders, especially old-school management, must work at changing their approach and mindset. That means replacing much of what one knows with new ideas. Self-awareness helps to identify, address, and swap old biases with diverse thinking.

Improve leadership skills by following these seven principles and practices:

  1. Continue to educate yourself
  2. Develop the right attitude
  3. Create a truly supportive workplace environment
  4. Set up clear communication channels
  5. Diversify the team(s)
  6. Empower others via effective collaboration
  7. Encourage feedback to drive employee engagement

Inclusive leaders also tend to be transformational. They develop an acute awareness of bias, are visibly committed, and practice humility. Moreover, DEI leaders are attentive to others and know how to foster positive cultures that enhance employee engagement.

For some, inclusion coaching proves to be a wise investment. That’s because qualified coaches can see leadership aspects in their personality that can be difficult to recognize on one’s own. Coaching helps identify and change old beliefs, biases, and behaviors to make way for better practices and renewed confidence.

The Significance of Confident, Committed Leadership

Confident leaders tend to be open, upbeat, and happy, which emits positivity in the workplace. They work well with those they lead and support Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). They also inspire individual employees to help themselves excel. So, an optimistic leader creates favorable conditions whereby workers feel valued.

Furthermore, confident, committed leaders believe in their abilities. They take risks to achieve lofty goals at the personal and team level. A 2011 study found that workers are more likely to trust assured, happy leaders, which boosts morale and team performance. And other studies have shown trusted leadership is vital to successfully navigating organizational changes [5] [6].

 3) Use Self-Reflection to Improve Leadership Skills


Self-reflection is a great way to improve your leadership strengths and weaknesses. It also helps improve how you feel and function as a person. And the effect of your self-reflection is an enhancement in your relationships with employees, family, friends, and the wider community.

How to Self-Reflect

Self-reflection is the path to self-awareness. It’s free, simple, and highly effective, which is why the best leaders practice it. Honest reflection lets you zoom in to review your actions to the present and envision your growth potential. It also offers a fast way to improve your leadership skills and better understand others. Thus, reflective leadership helps you visualize the personal and people skills and areas you need to work on.

These are the reasons outstanding team leaders prioritize self-reflection in their routines. It can get quite deep, but these are the seven basics you need to get started:

  1. Find a quiet location free from distractions to self-reflect
  2. Reflect daily for at least ten minutes
  3. Don’t force your thoughts; let them flow
  4. Write down the important things and briefly describe your experiences
  5. Reflect on a single area, especially if you’re new to self-reflection exercises
  6. Be honest with yourself; it opens the mind
  7. Don’t be hard on yourself

That last point is important. You may see things you don’t like or behaviors you’re ashamed of, but don’t beat yourself up about past events. Self-reflection is a journey. It is all about learning from the past to help frame a better version of yourself going forward.

Continue to Improve Leadership Skills

Effective leadership is not just a case of meeting the company’s baseline criteria. A competitive workplace is more about its people than its processes. And for that, leaders must cultivate positive, cultural environments that encourage employees to do their best.

As the modern workplace and workers continue to evolve, leaders and leadership styles must adapt to remain effective. Improving as a forward-thinking executive, supervisor, or team leader is an ongoing commitment. Great leaders at any level make a concerted effort to reduce their workplace bias and foster inclusivity. And they practice self-reflection to continually improve on professional and personal levels.

EWF Corporate Workshops for Leaders

EWF bases its corporate workshops on proven, actionable leadership development that holds you accountable. Learn ways to improve your EQ skills and leverage ERGs. Our experts and training show you how to build trust and avoid the DEI backlash caused by unconscious hiring bias. Moreover, EWF’s corporate study groups focus on culture-building assets critical for targeted recruitment, retainment, and the culture demands of the new American workforce.

Learn More About EWF’s Corporate Workshops

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