Truly great leaders develop a style for themselves and the rest of us get to learn by standing on the shoulders of giants!
A cursory search threw up this tidbit of information. “It’s estimated that the average adult makes about 35,000 remotely conscious decisions each day.” If we take away daily living choices such as which cereal for breakfast, or which shirt to choose for the day, we are still left with a fairly large number of decisions that we need to make that will have an impact on the direction our “business” life will take.
How do we make certain that we’ve made the best possible decision we could have?
It has been said that the British polymath Thomas Young, who died in 1829, was the last person to know everything there was to know at the time. Now I am not Young (by any measure!) and luckily, I do not need to know everything that there is to know anymore. Technology does that for me very successfully these days. My and for that matter, for most of my peers, the problem is quite the opposite. I now have too much information at hand and continue getting more, every minute I wait to make my decision.
To start with, how much information do I need to make an effective decision.
Former US Secretary of State, Colin Powell came up with the 40/70 rule. This rule says that leaders should be making decisions when they have between 40-70% of the information needed. Make a decision with less than 40%, then you’re “shooting from the hip”. Wait until you have more than 70% of the information, and you’ve waited too long, and the opportunity may have passed.
I personally think about it in terms of
- My tools and technology
- My team
- My gut instinct
Do I have the right tools?
Now that I know “how much” information I need, how do I go about getting it? I believe a person is as smart as the question he asks and who he asks! Even if it means “asking” the right tool. In today’s age of information excess, one of the most important technological tools for a manager would be those that help them filter that information, analyze it and present it in a manner that will provide most clarity to the user. The right tool could well be the difference between a great call or a disastrous error.
Says Lauren Berrington, Chief Audit Executive of South Africa’s largest conglomerate, “The day I took over the role, I was very clear that, to do justice to the ever changing world of compliance, I needed to leverage technology to provide appropriate assurance to help my company make smarter decisions. My team and I researched the landscape but did not find a tool that could collect, ingest, transform and validate large data sets intelligently. We therefore decided to build it ourselves – We call her “ALICE”
What is my team telling me?
The user here is as important as the information itself. We all read, interpret and conclude on the same information, differently. Which is why a diverse team is almost always an organizational advantage. Asking the right person, the right question at the right time is very often the deciding factor between a great call or not.
Is gut instinct enough to sway my thought process?
So now that I have the right amount of relevant information, what’s next? Some decisions are not always staring down at you from a neat set of numbers or at the end of a questionnaire. And here is where your “instinct” takes over. Instinct is “behavior that is mediated by reactions below the conscious level” and this is peculiar to each individual. One’s instinct would be honed by education, training, interactions and experiences. I have learnt to trust my instinct and now believe this is as important as any other factor in making a decision.
Eventually each of us will have a decision-making style unique to us. Truly great leaders develop a style for themselves and the rest of us get to learn by standing on the shoulders of giants!