"Help Me Think" Episode 4
June 30, 2023

The Seven Most Common Mistakes Leaders Make When Making Decisions

Episode Description

Decisions are one of any leader's most important responsibilities. Yet, not enough time is dedicated to helping leaders develop a systematic process for doing so so that when they make decisions, they can make them quickly and efficiently while getting the desired outcomes.

What has led me to this conclusion is the observation of leaders consistently making the same mistakes that either make the decision-making process more difficult than it needs to be or lead to results that are less than desirable.

In this episode of 'Help Me Think,' I share these mistakes with you so you can avoid the pitfalls that lead to poor decision-making. Awareness of these pitfalls will help you make more informed and effective decisions.

Key Takeaways
  • Pitfall Number One is Not Keeping Bias for Action in Check. This occurs when leaders excessively rush decisions for the sake of quick action. This haste may undermine the decision-making process, prioritizing completion over careful evaluation, leading to undesirable outcomes. The solution is a systematic decision-making process, ensuring well-informed decisions regardless of their size or urgency.
  • Pitfall Number Two is Moving Too Slowly Due to a Discomfort with Ambiguity. This occurs when leaders excessively seek information to eliminate uncertainty and ensure 100% predictability before deciding, leading to analysis paralysis. Effective decision-making, however, involves some risk and ambiguity, and leaders must be comfortable with this.
  • Pitfall Number Three is Solutioning Way Too Early. This concerns leaders prematurely proposing solutions without comprehensively understanding what they're trying to solve for. This pitfall, linked to an overactive bias for action, can lead to less effective solutions. Optimal decision-making requires a thorough diagnosis of the problem, which can reveal more successful strategies.
  • Pitfall Number Four is Mistaking Opinions, Speculation, and Assumptions as Facts. This pitfall warns against equating personal views with objective truths. Misinterpretation can result from failure to differentiate between these during decision-making, thereby treating opinions, assumptions, and speculation the same as facts during the decision-making process. The solution rigorously validates any presented 'fact' by questioning its truthfulness, certainty, and evidentiary support, thus promoting clarity and sound decisions.
  • Pitfall Number Five is Allowing Emotions to Distort Your Perception of Reality. This pitfall emphasizes the risk of letting emotions interfere with clear judgment. The solution lies not in negating emotions but in being consciously aware and self-regulating. It involves noticing emotional intensification, pausing, and replacing reactive emotions with curiosity to question their relevance, thereby avoiding skewed perceptions.
  • Pitfall Number Six is Truncating Debate to Avoid Conflict. This pitfall deals with the issue of avoiding necessary conflict in decision-making processes. Two types of conflicts arise: Cognitive Conflict focused on ideas and work-related disagreements, and Affective Conflict, which is personal. The goal is to encourage cognitive conflict, facilitating rigorous and robust debate while keeping affective conflict low. This requires distinguishing between the two, encouraging cognitive conflict as the norm, and discouraging taking disagreements personally.
  • The seventh pitfall is Thinking Short-Term Only and Not Playing the Long Game. It emphasizes the importance of considering short and long-term implications when making decisions. After identifying potential solutions or paths forward, take the time to play out each scenario, considering the trade-offs or sacrifices required in the immediate and distant future. By doing this, you can anticipate and possibly mitigate unforeseen consequences that could arise later.

Please tune in now to reflect on these potential pitfalls and learn how to mitigate them.

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Episode Links

Starla's Website and Newsletter Sign-Up: www.starlawest.com/podcast

Starla's YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/StarlaWest

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Special Thanks To Our Title Sponsor

I want to thank our title sponsor, Business Furniture, an organization celebrating its 100th anniversary and revolutionizing the way we work since 1922. With hybrid work becoming mainstream, Business Furniture offers solutions that balance the flexibility employees crave with the need for fostering collaboration and innovation. Check them out at businessfurniture.net.

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