I have been talking with many of my clients about decisions lately. Big, complex, uncertain, no-easy-answers decisions. The ones executives get to make about strategy, implementation, talent, and risk. Such decisions may be about changing the strategic priorities for your company or understanding why change isn’t happening faster. They include whether the investment in a strategy is still the right one or if you should “fail fast” and try again. They may include when or if to replace a senior leader on the executive team or which of two qualified candidates might be the better fit to lead a new division. Some of the risks are clearly financial; others are political or cultural. Both matter.
What’s In Common Across Decisions
There will be an upside and a downside to any decision you make. There is NO perfect answer that will lead only to positive impact.
Some of your constituents and stakeholders will be pleased with the decision; others not so much.
Insufficient hard data exists to objectively determine the risk of your decision.
There will be no shortage of individuals who will have an opinion and/or be certain what you should do. But none of them have all the perspectives you have nor are they accountable for the decision – the accountability is on you.
Your decision will not be based solely on logic, analysis and fact no matter how much you believe that you are objective and rational. However, your insights, assumptions, beliefs, experiences as well as your personality and values all influence what you believe to be “truths” behind different perspectives. Following your “gut” instincts or intuition is a key contributor to your success.
Some leaders appreciate and accept the reality behind these uncomfortable decisions that must be made. And, frankly, some leaders are better at making them than others. There is an important “critical thinking” competency that exists at some level in all leaders (and in some more than others). Critical thinking includes
How we “know” what we know is true, unproven or false
How we recognize (or don’t recognize) the assumptions we and others make about the information we collect
How well we evaluate arguments as to pros and cons, and understand our own biases
How well we draw conclusions from available evidence; evidence that may be based in the logical analyses of facts and/or our own instincts and experience
While the amount of certainty someone has in their information and decisions can sometimes influence us to see them as strong leaders and worthy of being trusted and followed, the amount of certainty is rarely due to the amount of critical thinking competency someone has alone. In fact, sometimes there is an inverse relationship here.
Wondering how you and your team can harness your critical thinking competency when gathering information, evaluating and making your most important decisions? The Bailey Group can help.