Learn How to Manage Instinctive Biases In Order to Run a Successful Business

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As the coronavirus pandemic continues to take our world by storm, businesses are facing unpredictable and unprecedented challenges that seem to be never ending. Businesses are required to constantly pivot and adapt to new rules and regulations, causing many of them to go under. Now more than ever is a time that business owners need to capitalize on the things they can control and fight to keep their businesses alive.

I sat down with Brad Kerschensteiner and Mario Sikora to discuss what it takes to become a successful well-rounded company. Aside from his role as the President of Integrative Change, Brad serves as a leadership coach and associate at Awareness to Action International alongside Mario, the President of Awareness to Action International. Together, they have researched the connection between business planning and instinctive biases, and the importance of managing these biases rather than being impeded by them. Some key takeaways:

  1. Preserving: A preserver is someone who focuses on having the necessary means to survive comfortably for themselves and those they care about. Their downfall stems from the feeling of never having enough. When asked how the preserving bias relates to business, Brad and Mario said that “leaders with a preserving bias, in general, tend to be drawn to the fundamental, ‘nuts and bolts’ issues related to business and organizations. They tend to be more cautious and conservative, and more risk-averse in general.” They continued that “these tendencies can make them good leaders for organizations that need stability and order. The downside, of course, is that they can be too resistant to change, conservative, and tradition-bound and may struggle in a fast-paced environment.”

  2. Navigating: Navigators focus on the interaction between the group and the hierarchical structure. They strive to hold a loose network that allows them to build trust and collect useful information. This need for connection and information can sometimes reflect negatively if the navigator acts as a gossip. Brad and Mario went on to discuss the leadership styles of navigators as those who are “drawn to issues related to group dynamics and interpersonal communication… Navigating leaders tend to be good in the ‘forming’ stage of team dynamics, where the group is finding its identity and ways of working together. They may, however, become too focused on the political dynamics of the group and spend more time on the politics than on the organization’s ultimate business goals.” 

  3. Transmitting: Transmitters are similar to the Enneagram Type 3 in that they strive to be outstanding. They focus on showing their “charm, charisma, and accomplishment.” They are driven by the thought of establishing a legacy, however the downside is that sometimes they are too attention-seeking. With regards to their leadership style, Brad and Mario discussed that people with a transmitting bias are “good at articulating a goal or vision and moving others toward it, seducing some and driving others as necessary. They often intuitively understand the mind of the market and the customer and are persuasive sellers of the product, company, or dream… Transmitting leaders tend to be good in the start-up phase of a business when the organization needs an inspiring vision to rally around. On the downside, the transmitting impulses can cause these leaders to focus too much on themselves, their accomplishments and their desirable qualities.”

It is vital for leaders and business owners to understand their instinctive biases and learn how to capitalize on them rather than be hindered by them. They must learn to use their implicit biases to their advantage, while focusing on combating the weaknesses that come with them. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of their instinctive biases, business leaders will be able to increase their chances of reaching success. 

In order to better understand how a business can be affected by instinctive biases during each stage of business development, let’s examine the corresponding challenges at each stage. 

  1. Stage 1: During the planning and seeding stage, a preserver thrives in “writing a business plan/canvas to determine viability, completing a competitive analysis, [and in] securing financing and capital.” A navigator thrives in “establishing a board of advisors, creating [an] initial team, [and in] creating relationships with potential investors or partners.” A transmitter will thrive in “clarifying the organization’s vision/mission/core values, [and in] developing a brand and marketing strategy/campaign.”

  2. Stage 2: In the launch and startup phase, a preserver focuses on “establishing processes and systems, evaluating external trends in business (e.g. PESTLE Analysis), [and on] setting annual/quarterly goals. A navigator focuses on “training and onboarding team members, networking, [and] building collaborative and affiliative partnerships.” A transmitter focuses on “marketing/branding campaigns [and] brand activation launch.”

  3. Stage 3: In the stabilization phase, a preserver pays attention to “improving efficiency of all processes/systems (administrative, operational, financial, etc.), using systems such as Agile, implementing metrics (e.g. OKRs, KPIs) to ensure high performance, long-term strategic planning frameworks (e.g. SWOT, VRIO), [and] selecting and developing an organization structure.” A navigator focuses on “culture, talent retention, and development” internally and on “community relations and charitable giving” externally. A transmitter has a “client retention focus, [and prioritizes] brand management and business-trend monitoring.”

  4. Stage 4: In the growth and expansion phase, a preserver prioritizes “replicating established processes and systems [and] evaluating benefits of scaling (Scale & Scope Analysis.” A navigator prioritizes “creating a talent pipeline… creating [a] referral ecosystem, establishing a Board of Directors, [and] setting up remote teams.” A transmitter has an “aggressive focus on strategic innovating, technology, [and] digital transformation [as well as a] change management communication strategy.”

  5. Stage 5: In the maturity and selling phase, a preserver concentrates on “determining [the] EBITA Score, revolving growth strategy around increasing this score, [and] establishing [a] succession management plan.” A navigator concentrates on “sourcing potential buyers and incoming C Suite.” A transmitter concentrates on “creating interest, negotiation, reputation, and brand management.”

Sitting down with Brad and Mario enlightened me to the ins and outs of instinctive biases, and taught me how important it is to understand and manage them in order to lead successful businesses. I’m in the process of developing an assessment to determine your instinctive bias. Check it out here! 

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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