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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Stress Leads to Bad Decisions. Here’s How to Avoid Them

Ron Carucci
Harvard Business Review
Originally posted August 29, 2017

Here is an excerpt:

Facing high-risk decisions. 

For routine decisions, most leaders fall into one of two camps: The “trust your gut” leader makes highly intuitive decisions, and the “analyze everything” leader wants lots of data to back up their choice. Usually, a leader’s preference for one of these approaches poses minimal threat to the decision’s quality. But the stress caused by a high-stakes decision can provoke them to the extremes of their natural inclination. The highly intuitive leader becomes impulsive, missing critical facts. The highly analytical leader gets paralyzed in data, often failing to make any decision. The right blend of data and intuition applied to carefully constructing a choice builds the organization’s confidence for executing the decision once made. Clearly identify the risks inherent in the precedents underlying the decision and communicate that you understand them. Examine available data sets, identify any conflicting facts, and vet them with appropriate stakeholders (especially superiors) to make sure your interpretations align. Ask for input from others who’ve faced similar decisions. Then make the call.

Solving an intractable problem. 

To a stressed-out leader facing a chronic challenge, it often feels like their only options are to either (1) vehemently argue for their proposed solution with unyielding certainty, or (2) offer ideas very indirectly to avoid seeming domineering and to encourage the team to take ownership of the challenge. The problem, again, is that neither extreme works. If people feel the leader is being dogmatic, they will disengage regardless of the merits of the idea. If they feel the leader lacks confidence in the idea, they will struggle to muster conviction to try it, concluding, “Well, if the boss isn’t all that convinced it will work, I’m not going to stick my neck out.”

The article is here.
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