Facing the Echo Chamber
Leaders should connect with people across their organization to avoid being trapped in an echo chamber of limited perspectives.
We all fall victim to confirmation bias from time to time. As leaders, we surround ourselves with people who share our views and experiences. Over time, our perspectives can become limited, causing us to lose touch with reality.
This "echo chamber" effect recently played out between Elon Musk and his executive team at Twitter. Convinced that remote work undermines innovation and productivity, Musk demanded all employees return to the office full-time. Not surprisingly, his directive was met with mass resignations.
Musk failed to see beyond his inner circle - surrounding himself with like-minded executives who agreed with his views on office work. He lost touch with what employees on the ground floor actually wanted.
As leaders, how do we avoid falling into this echo chamber trap? The answer may lie in a tactic employed by coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots.
Known for his unconventional leadership style, Belichick makes it a point to regularly sit with different groups of players at team lunch. Rather than only engaging his star players or seasoned veterans, he opts to sit with rookies one day, special team players the next.
This exposes him to a variety of perspectives beyond just the starting lineup. It enhances his understanding of team dynamics at every level - making him a more informed, empathetic leader.
Like Belichick sitting with his punt returners, make it a point as a leader to regularly engage parts of your organization beyond your inner circle. Have skip-level meetings with new hires you haven't interacted with. Join departments outside your specialty for lunch discussions. Bring in external experts that challenge your viewpoint.
This will enhance your awareness, inform your decisions, and prevent you from disconnecting from reality. While surrounding yourself with trusted advisors has merits, make sure you balance inward listening with outward engagement.
Stay curious, humble, and avoid the echo chamber. Your leadership growth depends on it.