Sailing is one of my hobbies in life. When sailing in Charleston harbor, it requires quick decision-making, honed skills and clear communication to those on board. If you don’t make the right decision, a collision may occur. If you don’t communicate, the boom may knock someone off the boat. One of my longtime sailing teachers trained me to make decisions on when to tack by simply feeling the breeze of the wind on the hairs of my neck. This allowed me to keep my eyes on my course of travel, while keeping my up my speed, and making the right decisions in a timely manner. Taking in the right information at the right time and in the right manner is essential in making timely decisions.
Today’s leaders are equipped with all types of data and information. Within seconds, they have access to a vast array of data, equipping them to make the decisions. However, today’s leaders are now pressed with three problems that arise from this amount of data.
- First, they need to be sure the data is trustworthy and accurate.
- Many times, they are reviewing more data than needed for the decision-making process. In this, they must determine the proper data required for this decision.
- They must make decision in a timely manner, not wasting time reviewing loads of data. Timing may be essential to success.
In a recent engagement with selected upcoming leaders in a large, global organization, we were involved in putting these newly selected leaders through a three-day, in-depth program to validate their skills in areas that included:
· Financial aptitude
In this three-day program, one issue facing these new leaders stood out. In their face-to-face interviews after the intensive, we met with them to set their coaching plan for the coming year. In all but one interview, these selected leaders stated their decision-making process was slower than desired. Why? They either reviewed the data presented in too much detail or simply wanted more data before making their decision.
Our upcoming leaders have been loaded down with data most of their lives. The internet, smartphones and devices have always been a part of their lives. They rely on data. For many of today’s upcoming leaders, they have not recognized there is more than data required, and they have not put in situations that enable them to gain experiences through their decision-making. Data cannot be their only answer in decision-making.
To enable your upcoming leaders to flourish, start with these two foundational elements- character and competence. This concept is best understood when reading Tony Bell’s book Great Leadership. If you start with character and competence as the foundational elements, you will find that building up your new leaders will result in more successes for them and your organization. Equip your leadership to trust their talents, while you direct them on developing needed skills, and using data correctly in their decision-making processes.
As you select your new leaders, involve them in leadership meetings and decision-making. Allow them to see the consequences of good and poor decision-making, as well as, allow them to be included in the decision-making. Let them own it early on. Validate their foundation (character and competence) by giving them a voice in decisions. As a leader, you need to recognize their core talents, while helping them recognize the skills they need to develop to succeed. Equip them to make decisions, even when data is absent, and everyone wins.
Mitch Smith, Rootloud founder and CEO
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