Decision-Making Fast and Slow

Decision-Making Fast and SlowDecisions can be relatively inconsequential, but when they are tough ones, one of the complexities leaders face is how quickly they need to make the decision.  As illustrated in last week’s blog post about James Comey’s many decision points, sometimes you have more time to develop good assessments, and other times you don’t.
Continue reading

Truth or Fiction

Truth or FictionTake a look at an emerging phenomenon: what has happened to the lines between truth and fiction?  They have become blurred by ‘alternate facts’, by reliance on anonymous sources of information, by willfully ignoring evidence that refutes a point of view. Although ‘truth’ can be a relative term in the best of circumstances, it seems to have become open to interpretation more than ever in our lifetimes. As this takes place in the wider world, what impact begins to be felt in the workplace? Continue reading

What Guides Your Decision-Making?

principlesCarved into the granite wall of Northwestern Mutual, a financial services company, is this statement:

The ambition of Northwestern Mutual has been less to be large than to be safe; its aim is to rank first in benefits to policyowners rather than first in size. Valuing quality above quantity, it has preferred to secure its business under certain salutary restrictions and limitations rather than to write much larger business at the possible sacrifice of those valuable points which have made Northwestern Mutual pre-eminently the policyowner’s company.

-Executive Committee, 1888”

Continue reading

Standing Up for a Decision You Don’t Support

Looking to the futureYolanda argued long and eloquently with her peer vice presidents about a proposal that she felt was risky, inconsistent with company values, and would have a negative effect on employees, causing layoffs that she felt were unnecessary.  Despite her well-reasoned thinking, the majority of her colleagues supported the proposal, and a decision was made to move forward with it.  The CEO asked the vice presidents to work out a strong communication plan to their reports, and begin the process of communicating the decision immediately, so that the proposal’s implementation would not be delayed. Continue reading

The Perils of Decision-Making: A Checklist for Making Good Decisions

DecisionOf all the things we do as leaders, the one that is most front-and-center in our day-to-day lives is making decisions.  We make dozens of them every day, sometimes intuitively with little thought, and sometimes with gut-wrenching uncertainty and procrastination.  You’d think that a skill so essential to our work would be the first thing taught in our MBA classes, but was it for you?  Bet not. Continue reading

Is Inclusion Always Ideal in Decision-Making?

justice - vote à mains levéesInvolving employees in decisions has become the holy grail of consulting wisdom.  Consider these quotes from consulting firms’ sites:

“There is a direct correlation between how involved employees are in the decision making in their department or team and their overall morale, motivation, and satisfaction with their jobs.” Continue reading

Ruminating or Reflecting? How to Get the Most of a Bad Decision

Okay, let’s admit it.  We’ve all made bad decisions.  Painful ones, embarrassing ones, career-chilling ones.  And if we have even an ounce of integrity, we’ve relived those bad decisions over and over in our heads as the regret and pain continue to dog us.  But do we really learn anything useful from them?  Learning to turn rumination into reflection is an invaluable leadership skill, allowing us to absorb real insight from our infallibility.

What happens in rumination about mistakes we make?  The process of rumination is all about either intensifying (for more self-disparaging people) or alleviating pain.  For most of us, we find ways to replace initial embarrassment and feelings of stupidity with justifications and even blame-transference – “if the team had given me all the facts…”, “if I weren’t being pressed by the CEO to go with his idea….”, “if I weren’t constantly being handed an overload of work.”  If we can find even minimally logical reasons for why we made a dumb mistake, we feel better.  Rumination helps us move from pain to outrage at the nasty circumstances that contributed to our temporary stupidity.  It is a normal human reaction. Continue reading

“How Do I Deal With Some Who……..?” Part 2: Handling the ‘Decision Avoidant’ Personality

Last week I introduced my client Lynn’s question about how to deal with difficult personalities, and offered options for working with an assertively manipulative personality. This week we’ll consider the opposite: the person who hides behind any available subterfuge in order to avoid being responsible for a decision.

Lynn described this personality as wanting to always hand the decision back to you, asking ever more complicated questions about how you want her to decide, until you’ve wound up giving the answer.

The Decision Avoidant personality is one that believes being wrong is worse than being inept. This fear may be grounded internally, but it may also get support from your culture. Continue reading