I remember reading an article in Discover Magazine years ago where there was a story on brain patterns and the speed of thinking. The person who the story was about, Dr. Antonio Damasio (department head of neurology at the University of Iowa at the time), made some interesting statements that worked to explain how people thought about things in intense moments.

make better leadership decisions
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One of those statements was that emotions turn out to be essential to our rational decision making processes. He stated:

“If we didn’t have those gut responses, we’d get caught in an endless cycle of analysis, drawing infinite pros and cons lists in our heads… emotions help you concentrate on making the right decision.”

It’s interesting to look at how we deal with making crucial decisions in times of stress. I, along with many others, speak of making sure you keep your cool and try to think logically before making most of your decisions.

This comes from some of the principles of Rene Descartes, considered the father of modern philosophy. It’s valid thinking when one has the luxury of time in making a decision. However, we don’t always have that luxury, and I’d have to agree with the good doctor that we would basically shut ourselves down with indecision in times where snap decisions had to be made, as in life and death situations.

Still, each of these types of decisions are made every day by good leaders. Not every snap decision is the right one, but sometimes, it’s not as crucial to be absolutely correct as it is to do something.

The question becomes whether one can be taught how to make emotional business decisions quickly. In my opinion it can be taught, but not in the traditional way of teaching.

As a comparison, if you’ve never led anything in your life and you’re suddenly thrust into a position of leadership, I believe you can be taught how to become a good leader. You might even have some instincts present based on your experiences that will help.

When it comes to making good, quick emotional decisions… it takes a little bit more than that. Think about it; how many people have been injured or killed by making a quick decision while trying to save someone else? How many people have made things worse by making a snap judgment or saying the wrong thing without thinking about it?

It takes two things to be able to make better fast emotional decisions; experience and education, aka training. Leadership training won’t help at all; training on what it is you do takes care of that.

Think about top athletes. Every one of them knows their sport and their talents very well. They know them because they practice over and over. They know them because they watch film. They know them because they’re always in the process of learning.

If you watch any sport, have you noticed that things don’t always happen the exact same way? That’s because all the training in the world won’t get you the same result every time. Athletes and coaches need to know how to think on the fly. Sometimes it’s within seconds that they have to make snap decisions. Those at the top seem to make the best decisions all the time, but the other players know how to think on the fly also; if they didn’t they wouldn’t be on the team, even if they’re on the bench.

I’ve had to make some quick decisions a few times in my work life. Luckily, because I was well versed in what I did and what my employees did, I was able to make pretty good decisions. Each time it worked out well enough to buy us more time to get things working the way we wanted them to. A quick decision doesn’t have to fix everything; it either has to make things better or stem the tide of bad things happening until you can make better adjustments.

Always be learning and practicing your craft. Always make sure to keep others trained, which helps you to stay on top of any potential problems that may arise. Always try to think of scenarios that might come up that you might have to deal with. Practice and education don’t make one perfect, but it gives one the ability to bet better than those who don’t know what they’re doing.
 

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