Better Clarity, Better Business Decisions

 More doubt is the last thing you want when you are in trouble. ~ Daniel Kahneman

When it comes to better business decisions, fact-finding and information management can be taxing, even for seasoned leaders. Emotions influence most thought processes, and leaders can be left with distorted impressions. When this topic comes up with my coaching clients, we discuss techniques to achieve clarity. McKinsey & Company experts advise leaders to pause, take a step back and calm the mind. Approach thinking more rationally, and don’t allow anxiety to overrun reason.

Leaders who come to appreciate other perspectives solve problems most productively. Active listening skills are the best tool for engaging staff and enhancing rational thinking. Taking an objective approach, with input and choices, reduces emotional influence, bias, fear and rumors. Getting to the truth always leads to more accurate decisions. Consider hiring an executive coach to provide training in active listening.

Clearer thinking also comes from lessons learned. Legends and unsubstantiated beliefs can finally be put to rest. Leaders who continue to learn, read, ask questions and research gain more real-life knowledge of how their world works. Ask friends and colleagues about their experiences and what they learned from them. These steps reduce misconceptions of current problems and their causes. They also clarify effective solutions, ensuring better outcomes for future decisions.

Our culture draws a heavy line between right and wrong. Outcomes are considered either failures or successes, with few gray areas. Rightness is praised, and wrongness is condemned. Leaders therefore strive to be right to protect their reputations. In Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts (Penguin, 2018), World Series of Poker champion Annie Duke urges leaders to stop trying to be right, as our culture defines it. Good decisions can still go awry, and a poor outcome doesn’t mean a decision (or leader) was bad. There are too many factors at work behind the scenes, some of which are truly out of your control. Clearer thinking takes this into account and allows greater satisfaction in making the best possible decisions.

Leaders known for their good decisions employ the approaches discussed here, maximizing their certainty, clarifying their thinking and enhancing their confidence. Their decisions benefit their organizations, in lieu of themselves, and garner the respect and trust that seem to be sorely lacking today.

What do you think? How do you attain clarity for better decision-making? I’d love to hear from you. You can call me at 704-827-4474; let’s talk. And as always, I can be reached here or on LinkedIn.

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