A Principal’s Positive Bias

Not all biases are negative. Some of our biases move us to assist others or to make contributions that benefit our families, our communities, our schools, our cities, and our world.

Principal Terri recently told us of an experience she had when she noticed a fight in progress in the hall at her large urban high school. When the usual tactics for stopping a fight failed to accomplish the intended mission, Terri waded into the fray between the combatants, becoming injured in the process. As her bias leans toward win-win, she gave her assistant principal responsibility for the in-the-moment interaction while she took care of her own physical and emotional state. This proactive stance allowed her to set aside her strong emotion so that she could stay true to her True North—her positive belief in the student’s potential and the student’s need for Terri’s continued support.

When Terri conferred with the student’s parent, she was able to be fully present and listen for well over an hour, saying, “Tell me more,” and “What else do you want to say about…” which allowed the parent to be fully heard and understood. Terri made a commitment to the parent to support the student’s progress when she returns to school. Her promise put the school and the parent on the same team of support for the student.

Terri clearly has a bias FOR supporting all students. In this instance, she was able to see beyond one incident to the larger picture of success for this student and all students on her campus.

As you reflect on your own biases:

  1. Which ones are potentially limiting you and your leadership effectiveness?
  2. Which positive biases remind you to stay true to your personal mission?
  3. How will you remain conscious of your biases in order to be your best self and best leader?
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Frances Shuster, PCC, M. Ed.

Frances Shuster is a Partner with Results Coaching Global and coauthor of Results Coaching: The New Essential for School Leaders. She is a faculty instructor and coach for the Results Coaching Global Accredited Coach Training Program (ACTP).

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