Make Better Decisions and Become a Great Leader
Understand the decision-making skills of Great Leaders
“No one in the world was ever you before, with your particular gifts, abilities and possibilities.” — Joseph Campbell
We humans differ in our tastes, abilities and gifts. Yet we all are capable of achieving great things but great things don’t come easily. Unless, of course, you are very lucky.
If you want to live a great or even a good life, you will have to work hard. But everyone works hard!
So, what makes one man a Warren Buffet and another just a regular dude?
The answer came to me one day while I was sitting at my desk working on a hard problem. I was reading about taxes and trying to figure out the solution to a problem. There were many options in front of me and being a complete noob in finance, I couldn’t figure out which one was the best.
I decided to get out of the gunk of finance articles and blogs and step out into the real world. I asked family and friends about my problem and soon I was flooded with answers — wise and otherwise — that came from their unique experiences.
The answer I was seeking had now reached me through my collaborative efforts. This made me realise that, from a young age, we are taught to make decisions alone but we never really do make any decisions truly on our own.
Think about it: The second you are born, you are exposed to culture, experiences and people. Your thoughts are shaped by them. And in schools, you are told to be an independent thinker while they teach you how to think.
Our decisions aren’t really stand-alone, they are always influenced by other people or cultures.
So, why not be influenced by smart people and make the best decisions?
In the corporate world, this type of decision-making is called “Collaborative Decision Making” and it’s taught to managers and leaders to help them take advantage of collaboration and make the best decisions.
A decision is a choice you have to make to achieve a goal. You are probably making more than a thousand decisions every day, some of them are automatic while for some you sit down and think.
The automatic decisions are made by our instincts or System 1 thinking. Daniel Kahneman, in his book, Thinking Fast and Slow, talks about the thinking systems in our brain.
System 1 is a fast-thinking system. The majority of our decisions are made by this system and sadly, it is incapable of experiencing doubt. It’s based on instincts and stored experiences accumulated over years.
If you’ve ever regretted making a decision and blamed haste, then that was System 1 and if you ever applauded your gut feeling for making a good decision, that was System 1 too.
The drawback of System 1 thinking is that it depends on memories and memories can be flawed. We don’t remember events as they happened instead we remember what we felt and how we felt.
Another drawback of System 1, which is also a cognitive bias, is the Hindsight bias. If you ever made a decision without really knowing what would happen and when it turned out better than expected, you took credit for it and when it turned out bad, you blamed other people. That’s hindsight bias. We tend to base our new decisions based on the success of our past decisions without considering why they worked in the first place.
The second type of thinking is System 2 or slow thinking. Here, our brain takes time to think through things and we arrive at the correct answers because it’s deliberate and logical.
The cons of System 2 are that it is mentally draining and you really have to let go of laziness to get into this type of thinking.
Now, that you know how your mind makes decisions, it’s time to understand the collaborative decision-making process. The process consists of the following steps:
Step 1: Define your goal
You have to understand the problem you are facing, what is it and why is it important to you? And who do you think you can collaborate with for this problem?
Step 2: Establish your criteria
Once you understand your problem and key stakeholders, start defining the features that you would like in a solution. Define your preferences and also what you would like to avoid.
Step 3: Choose good options that must meet the criteria
Brainstorm options and talk to other people about the problem. Note down all the choices.
Step 4: Identify Pros and Cons
Compare your choices against the criteria that have been defined. Ask other people about the pros and cons of their ideas. Never take the first option or any option without clearly understanding the cost ( How it will cost you in terms of time, money, and energy) and the benefits ( What are the returns and how will it benefit you).
Step 5: Decide the most logical solution
Select the option which is the best among all the choices. The benefits must outweigh the cost. Make sure you double-check your decisions.
Ask yourself the following questions —
- How solid are your facts?
The solution must be based on facts and solid information
2. What do others think?
Is your choice better than what others are thinking?
3. What happened before?
Ask around if the solution worked for anybody.
Step 6: Evaluate results after implementing the decision
The final step is to implement the solution. After a while, grab a notebook, sit down and evaluate your decision. Why did it work? Why did it fail? How can you do better in the future?
So, this was all about collaborative decision-making, but you have to ask yourself a simple question first: Why would anybody collaborate with you?
In my case, I connected with family and friends about my problem and they were more than willing to help because they knew me well. But when you are trying to connect with people who aren’t well acquainted with you, you must figure out why would they even talk to you.
Coming up next, an article on “Overcoming Barriers to build a Collaborative Professional Network”. Stay tuned!
Written by Shreya Sinha. Thanks for reading :)
Shout out to Elizabeth Loberg, check out her amazing article 5 Ways to Create a Consistent Morning Routine.