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How a leader can rationalize his prejudices
Leadership Development

How a leader can rationalize his prejudices

HR blogs
Giuseppe Ando
March 2, 2021
Human Resource Management Platform
6
mins

A rational leader must work to overcome his prejudices, especially those he has matured towards his collaborators. As everyone knows, prejudices work, in large part, on an unconscious level, but re-knowing them allows you to increase their control.

Factors such as stress, fatigue or multi-pronged commitments contribute to weakening our resistance to prejudice, and it is not difficult to understand why. The weaker we are, the more we tend to adopt convenient shortcuts, which do not force us to formulate tiring logical and rational thoughts. The best technique is to implement a process of analyzing your thoughts and judgments about the people on our team. Create a set of questions and considerations to develop, which you will answer in writing. For example:

1. Am I able to list the characteristics ( non-professional or working ) that I certainly believe are true for each individual team member?

You must strive to identify those characteristics (whether positive or negative) that, no doubt, you think a person who meets your collaborators for the first time would also find. When a feature doesn't convince you, you skip it. Don't worry about what features you are looking at, go free. You can go from intelligence to culture, from sympathy to outward appearance. The important thing is that for you these are characteristics that would stand out in the eyes of anyone who knows that particular person for the first time. If you find that for one or more subjects you are unable to identify any striking characteristics, do not write anything.

2. Am I able to list the characteristics ( exclusively professional or work ) that I certainly believe are true for each single member of the team?

You must strive to identify those characteristics (whether positive or negative) that, no doubt, you think a person who meets your collaborators for the first time would also find. When a feature doesn't convince you, you skip it. Don't worry about what features you are looking at, go free. You can go from intelligence to culture, from sympathy to outward appearance.

The important thing is that for you these are characteristics that would stand out in the eyes of anyone who knows that particular person for the first time. If you find that for one or more subjects you are unable to identify any striking characteristics, do not write anything.

Rationalizing your prejudices

3. What episodes or anecdotes come to my mind to support the characteristics I listed in points 1 and 2?

In a very concise way, list all the situations that have suggested or inspired that particular judgment and that have led you to attribute that particular characteristic. For each of your collaborators you will have the list of characteristics and the one of the situations that you remember and that justify them. Once again, keep in mind that the criterion to use is the same, that is, you must be sure that by describing that particular situation to a third person, this too would (certainly) draw the same conclusions as you. If you are not sure that a certain episode would elicit the same judgment in a third person, it means that you cannot use it.

4. If I were to leave the company where I work, who would I try to take with me? And why?

Some might think that this question is useless, as the positive or negative judgments expressed in the first and second list and supported by the third should naturally lead to choosing people with positive characteristics. This, however, is not true. Working well with someone means finding an understanding that does not necessarily coincide with a personal one.

As well as the opposite, I can find a person extremely interesting on a personal level, but inadequate on a professional level. The exercise should be conducted by asking yourself the following questions: If I took this particular person with me, am I sure I would look good in my new job? Am I sure it would help me achieve my goals?

5. In relation to my personal and work interests, which of my collaborators is most useful to me?

Be filthy and ruthless. List all the benefits you could derive from the people who work with you. Don't overlook anything, not even the politically incorrect. Remember that you must list work and personal benefits.

By the time you finish this exercise, you probably won't know anything more about your co-workers, but you will have a much clearer picture of your relationship with them. Rationalizing also means objectifying our (pre) judgments. Rationality is a valid tool because (it is supposed) universal, that is, equal for all.

When you try to find the complete definition of your inner state, one that can be read and understood by anyone, you are operating a process that, by definition, is neutral with respect to your feelings and opinions and those of the judge. Being psychological and emotional states, the operation is never perfect, however, it allows extraordinary improvements.

The exercise described above is the attempt to shift the set of prejudices that accompany you, as a leader, in your working life from fast thinking (intuition) to slow thinking (rationality). For a leader, using the cerebral cortex is not an option, it is the only option they have. Against all fashions, new age in force, I remain convinced that leadership and logic will be increasingly combined, without ever reaching the conclusion that leadership is the expression of an exclusively rational activity.

About the author

Giuseppe Ando is a C-Level & Executive Coach - Associate Partner at the acclaimed Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching. With a career that presides at the crux of the Venn diagram of Passion, Skills, and Experience, Giuseppe’s reputation as top executive coach has spanned decades. Among his many accolades, he is also recognized for his unique ability to understand and inspire those he coaches to excel professionally and personally while also delivering their organization’s desired results.

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Sneha

October 25, 2021

A very inspiring list. Thanks for putting this together

Vanessa

October 25, 2021

This is such a great list of women leaders! More power to you all

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