Tag Archives: decision making

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character depth

Character Depth Will Determine Leadership Decisions

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Life experiences matter, so does formal education, the deeper your knowledge and understanding the better decisions you can make as a leader. Character depth will matter, because it is part of who you are.

Character may be described as a sum of your values, beliefs, and knowledge. It is also connected to how you apply all of those. It shows itself through your words, behaviors, and responses.

Everyone’s path in life may be different. What people read, espoused values from family and friends, and formal education will have an impact. Today, beyond just reading we have other vast influences, such as video, television, and even virtual realities.

Your life choices and decisions will shape how you navigate the future.

This is why learning is so important.

Are You Learning?

People learn in different ways. Some argue that they don’t need a formal program of study. Perhaps, that is true. Yet, at the same time if their learning is limited to only their immediate surroundings or culture their depth is limited. Their frame may be too narrow.

There are also differences between reading, studying, watching videos, and listening to podcasts, when compared with learning directly from an expert.

In life, people drop out of high school, they drop out of college, or never finish other types of educational programs.

There are unexpected pregnancies, loss of loved ones, or loss of a job.

Many twists, turns, and surprising outcomes.

Does this matter? The easy answer is, yes.

It is not so much about what happened, but more about what you learned.

What you learned from any experience will drive what choices or actions you’ll take next.

Did you learn?

Character Depth

Nearly every day I hear stories about formal leaders making difficult choices.

Some stories are about bad choices and some are about not understanding options. Go a little deeper and it may be that so-called leaders don’t even have the understanding that they should be making a choice. They do nothing.

Doing nothing may be an option, yet if it is not a conscious choice it may be problematic.

Leadership often circles back to expertise. While much of the expertise may be technical in a given field, it also requires great depth in the human side of things.

In the workplace, great leaders understand the technical as well as the psychology of work. They understand people.

Those who lack formal expertise, those who lack education, are limited. When their frame is very narrow, of course, they lack depth.

Depth becomes part of your character and the decisions you’ll make are limited by the information (knowledge/expertise) that is within your reach.

Sometimes there isn’t a video to watch. Sometimes there isn’t a podcast to listen to or a book to read.

The best leaders build their character across time from a wide range of experiences and learning.

How deep are you?

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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multiple choice decisions

Multiple Choice Decisions Frame the Outcomes

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Remember the last test you took? Did it include multiple choice answers? Multiple choice decisions make the assumption that the best answer is inclusive, is it?

Decision making is often much more complex than people realize and critical thinking plays an important role.

Make a list of pros and cons.

Let’s do a fish bone diagram to make sure we understand the root cause.

We need a brainstorming session.

The truth of it is, all of those may have value but only when you are operating within the correct frame.

In school, I often liked the short answer test questions. I often felt that I could express my reasoning and logic better, demonstrating that I had a grasp of the material. It didn’t always work.

As people we tend to want to fill in the blanks. When we don’t understand an action or behavior, we often fill in the blanks for a reason why.

The boss wouldn’t make eye contact, she must not have liked my question.

John was late for the meeting this morning. He must have overslept.

Cindy didn’t answer my email, she must not agree with my suggestion.

When something doesn’t seem to fit, we come up with a reason why.

Multiple Choice Decisions

In the workplace, meetings are held. Some are informational. In these meetings the information tends to flows in only one direction.

Other meetings are for problem solving. The idea is often about creating solutions.

Be mindful of the solutions generating meeting (problem solving) that is delivered with multiple choice options. Is the best possible answer in the group of suggested solutions?

People are directed each day, or not, by the frame in which they operate.

Sometimes what happens next should not be driven by the list of recommended choices.

That is what we often call, “Being framed.”

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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data listening

Data Listening, Do You Have This Skill?

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Data is out there, it is everywhere. We have lots and lots of data but what does it all mean? What about the opinions from friends, coworkers, or clients? Are you effective at data listening?

When we hear the word data we often think about numbers. We think about the financial statement, the metric for production efficiency, or the results from a scientific study. Sure, that is data, but so is the information that surrounds us.

Data Trouble Spots

Several trouble spots with data often plague organizational team members. It may be the CEO, or it may be the front-line team lead. It happens in stand-alone decisions or in the group or committee. Are you listening to the data? Should you?

Here are a few trouble spots:

  • Biased listening
  • Inappropriate frame
  • Too much data
  • Too little data
  • Opinions not facts

Often the more experienced we believe we are, the less effective we are at data listening. As leaders grow and elevate their status they may also start to listen with less efficiency and more bias.

Self-perception or deception is often problematic. Leaders make choices based on gut feel, or what seems to be the most mainstream point of view. Worse, they sometimes do it for future positioning or self-interest.

Data Listening

Some listening deficiencies are easily improved. Others are harder to identify or address.

Framing is a significant problem. Simply put, people don’t know what they don’t know. Every decision we make is based on our frame.

While the origins are obscure, the idiom, “Think outside the box,” is often attributed to John Adair who studied critical thinking in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Watch out for the frame you place around your decisions.

Information and data are everywhere, it is the art of exceptional listening that makes a difference for what happens next. Thinking alike is often just as problematic as it is good.

Sometimes the best way to see the data is with a different set of eyes.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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decision wait

Can Your Decision Wait? Should It?

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Procrastination about deciding is common. Especially for those big decisions, the high-risk kind. Can your decision wait? A better question may be, “Should it wait?”

The timeliness of decisions always feels problematic. Going too soon may involve some remorse later. Waiting too long, well, it may be too late.

The waitstaff may I ask, “Are you ready to order or do you need a few more minutes?”

That new car purchase, the salesperson may suggest, “Take your time. We’ve only had one other person looking at this vehicle.”

Sometimes it is the anticipation of what we may end up with or the opportunity that we might miss.

Some people will throw it out to fate, “If it is meant to be, it will be.”

Spring into Action

Emotionally we can be influenced to spring into action. It is what marketing does, the savvy salesperson, or our toe tapping friend with little patience.

Most decisions we make feel like the right decision at the time. We analyze and assess the playing field, the market, and the forecast. At the exact moment we make the decision it is the right decision.

As what happens next unfolds our decision may hold up to be good, or be bad, but at the time we made it, it was good.

Decision Wait

We can procrastinate about decisions for long periods of time. So much so that we completely miss opportunities.

If you were in business in the late 1980’s and waited long enough about the decision to purchase a fax machine, today, you’re in luck. You’ve never had to purchase a fax machine.

Be careful of the marketing that gives you a shove. Watch out for friends who suggest, “No risk, no reward.”

When the decision is yours, make a smart choice, do it with intention. Things always change. You say when.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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data driven decisions

Data Driven Decisions or Emotional Choices?

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Many professionals look to the data to help make decisions. Data is important and critical for executives, scientists, and engineers. How does data affect your business? Are data driven decisions used or is it more based on emotions?

I remember sitting in a community college classroom in the mid-1980’s, our instructor challenged our thinking with a concept. “If you travel 8 to 10 miles per hour over the speed limit coming from fewer than 20 miles away will you arrive at class earlier?”

Most quickly suggested that, yes, you would. The instructor pushed for additional thinking about stop signs, streetlights, and even the possibility of waiting for a train that crosses near the entrance.

We live in a world of data. Data that might make a difference or it might not.

Powerful Numbers

Two pieces of hand sliced bread, three apples from the produces section at the market, or a coffee refill by the wait staff at your favorite breakfast spot. Which bread slice is bigger, which apple weighs the most, or did I get the most ounces coffee for my money?

Millions of people play the lottery even though the chances of winning are known to be very small.

Data is important but it might not tell the entire story.

Do you use data to make decisions? Nearly everyone does. Are you anchored to that data? Is the data accurate? Does a single number provide the guidance or is it more about a trend?

Data is probably important for decisions, but it doesn’t mean that people will make smart choices.

Emotions Sometimes Drive

The feeling of faster, bigger, and most value for your dollar is important. So is feeling lucky.

Consider though that all of those are about feelings and emotions. Fitting data to your emotions is commonplace. It might be easy to find an example.

What about the average, mean, or statistical probability, do any of those prove your choice will be the best?

Data Driven Decisions

Trends and probabilities are probably better than any single number.

Data designed to fit or provided as proof is probably not a trend.

Be careful of data, it might be guided by hope and emotions.

One number matters much less than the trend.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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Anchored Decisions and Getting Unstuck

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Do you make anchored decisions? As people we often consciously or subconsciously make decisions based on data. The data that we develop trust in, belief, and view as reliable might be the exact thing that keeps us stuck.

Anchored decisions

Imagine for a moment that you are sitting in a nearby coffee shop that also operates a drive-through service for coffee, doughnuts, bagels, and breakfast sandwiches. While sipping your favorite morning beverage you observe many cars using the drive through service.

Next imagine that a friend enters the same coffee shop where you are sitting. Your friend tells you that the drive through service is jammed with cars every morning and then asks, “Guess how many cars pass through before 10:00 AM?”

Before you can answer, your friend says, “Normally around 350!”

Since you’re business minded (you are, right?) you start thinking about the average purchase per car. You consider a cup of coffee, a doughnut, bagel, or sandwich, some will buy more, some less, and sometimes there is more than one person per car. You establish a simple estimate of $10.00.

The coffee shop opens at 6:00 AM and your friend told you 350 (the anchor) cars pass through. You’ve estimated $10.00 per car and when you do the math you get $3,500.00 of drive through business by 10:00AM. Does this seem reasonable?

Anchored Decisions

How we make decisions, personally or professionally is often impacted by the data set that we observe, read about, or look up on the web. It might also be influenced by word-of-mouth, a sign, or an advertisement. The data might be very accurate or the data might be unreliable.

Imagine the scenario just presented only this time imagine that the real number of cars passing through is closer to 150. So the drive through is only bringing in, on average, around $1,500.00 of revenue during this period of time. This is a significant difference, it is $2,000.00 less!

So what does all of this mean to you?

It’s quite simple actually. As a living breathing, walking, talking, and thinking human being you make anchored decisions. You do it, and I do it, everybody does it.

Anchoring Applied

Imagine you get a new corporate account in your sales job. You look up the history of the account and you discover that last year they purchased $100,000.00 worth of product. What are they going to purchase this year? What is your best guess and you must give an answer.

Chances are good you’ll anchor to that $100k and you might guess $110k, or maybe go big with $125k. You goal becomes to sell them $125k, but perhaps in reality they might have the potential to be a $500k account. You’re going to miss out on a lot of business.

Now imagine this, you hear that the average dinner for two in your hometown costs $45.00, you hear that the average family of four spends $180.00 per week at the local grocery market, and the average price of a new pair of shoes is $75.00.

What will you spend when going out to eat or going shopping? What will you anchor to? Certainly you would likely base your estimates on the averages, and this of course seems reasonable, but what if it isn’t?

Get Unstuck

Anchored decisions often represent the way people (or businesses) become stuck. They limit their thinking, they use the data set, they listen to what others suggest or recommend.

What are the limits for you personally? Are you average, or slightly better? Where do you want to be? What is the data?

If you own a business, what was your revenue last year? What numbers are competitors turning in each year? How much can you sell or how much can you earn?

If you are a supervisor, manager, or other professional that is charged with leading in your organization how are you anchoring your department or team? Are you stuck with the same numbers or other data?

When you consider the anchors we might use, you just might realize how you got stuck.

Get unstuck.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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Leadership and the Danger of False Perceptions

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One of the most difficult aspects of working with others might be when their perception of a situation is completely different from the popular opinion of reality. In leadership roles, this can be career stalling and occasionally career ending.

Visionary employee thinking of development

Having a formal leadership role in an organization can be a very tough spot. Of course, many people desire and work very hard to achieve the level of excellence required to not only obtain the formal role, but also to demonstrate exceptional leadership qualities.

Few people would argue that confidence is a necessary leadership competency but in some cases confidence can go too far. Has your confidence ever limited your ability to lead? How do you know?

False Perceptions

Leaders can and often do develop blind spots, sometimes to the extent that they fail to see anything but what they believe. After all, their experience is vast and they are certain of their choices, decision making skills, and even the self-assessment of their performance.

This is where the trouble begins, but often not where it ends. Leaders who are so locked in and determined (confident) of a situation or circumstance that they fail to see options or consider alternative directions sometimes make the worst decisions. Let’s face it sometimes our decisions or recommendations just don’t align with the popular opinion and that can make us either a hero, or as some might suggest a zero. 

The biggest problem with all of this is when you believe that you are right and everyone else is wrong. Or worse, you ask some of your friends or direct reports and they tell you what you want to hear, but not what the truth is.

Warning Signs

Every situation is different. Different types of businesses, different people or issues, and different places in time can all affect the most probable outcomes of any situation, but how do you know if you have some false perception issues?

Consider some of these warning signs:

  1. You feel overlooked when new challenges or opportunities are presented and you are not selected for the role or consulted in the matter.
  2. You’ve received feedback that during high stress situations you are unapproachable.
  3. When discussing strategic direction you often feel two steps ahead and are very frustrated with others slowing the progress.
  4. Team members don’t share information when they should. You often only learn of an issue when it is near disaster.
  5. You select employees for tough assignments based on those who are perceived as easy to get along with or those who will go with the flow.

Before you quickly suggest that none of this fits you, I urge you to think through this carefully. These warning signs are often discovered near the root of blind-spot problems and it only takes one to qualify.

Solutions

Leaders often face challenges of false perceptions and self-deception. Through my business practice I have frequently discovered these issues and sometimes I’m called upon to help coach leaders to overcome these challenges. The toughest part is typically getting the person or persons involved to actually believe there is an issue.

Considering this, taking the first step towards a solution exists when those involved are willing to face the problems.

In 2010, I was fortunate that some of my work in this area was published in the book, The 2010 Pfeiffer Annual : Training (pages 97-106), and is available for purchase on-line. If you are concerned about false perceptions and self-deception or if you are charged with helping someone through these experiences this resource provides a great tool to get started.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


  • 4

Do You Value Risk?

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Do you take risks? Some people might be identified as risk taking enthusiasts. You have people who are extreme sport athletes, those who might drive a little fast on the highway, and those who take a risk at the casino. They might value risk and assuming you are not in one of those categories, do you value it?

Beautiful thoughtful business woman

Sure some risk might get your juices flowing, make you feel alive, and if you end up on the right side of the risk you’ll likely feel very happy. Life changing results may come about because of risk, and these results might be positive or they might set you back in an undesirable way.

What about a decisions for self-improvement or a decision to tackle a big project at work? What about speaking up during an uncomfortable situation or offering an idea that you know the boss will not agree with? Do you see any value in taking such risks?

A couple of well-known leadership authors, James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, released a training activity book in 2010 titled, The Leadership Challenge, Activities Book, it was edited by the highly admired and very talented, Elaine Biech. I was fortunate to contribute to that book through one of my training activities titled, Take A Risk! (pgs. 217 – 227). This activity appeared in the chapter titled, Challenge the Process. It’s a great book for those who are interested in activities related to leadership development. The reason I’m mentioning it is because it helps build credibility to the idea that value exists in taking reasonable and well calculated risk. Sometimes we have to challenge the process, at least according to some mainstream theories.

Recently I wrote a blog post about the concept of having reasonable expectations and of course the word reasonable might be considered to be very subjective. Later, a friend challenged some of my thinking by asking if this concept might create self-limiting beliefs. A good question I believe, and one that is important for anyone seeking change.

Here are a few of my beliefs about reasonable and calculated risk.

We should,

  • value risk
  • take reasonable risk
  • be calculated about our risk
  • expand our comfort zone
  • recognize that there is risk in safety.

Most of this bullet list is self-explanatory, but let me just provide an additional comment about risk as it relates to safety. Many people live their life by playing it very (or totally) safe. Each person has their own style and comfort associated with risk and the results they achieve. However, there is one fallacy in the concept of playing it safe. The fallacy is that playing it safe, taking very limited or no risk is perhaps one of the riskiest positions you can take. We are living in a world of rapid and constant change, if you are not changing, if you are not stepping away from your comfort zone, you are likely falling behind.

What calculated risks have you taken lately? What risk opportunity did you walk away from that you should have taken?

Risk is part of your growth, or not.

Take some!

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and coach that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is the author of the newly released book, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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Are Your Decisions Based On Instinct Or Gut Feel?

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Have you ever asked your family what they would like to eat for dinner and no one can decide? We make a lot of decisions every day, but sometimes we have to consult something inside ourselves to feel like we’re making the best choice. Do you believe that those decisions are based on instinct or are they more of a gut feel?

Instinct Decisions

We’ve all faced tough choices and sometimes we just don’t know who to ask in order to gain additional insight. Sometimes we ask others who we know will most likely answer one way or another, and we do that to improve our confidence or to feel better about a tough choice. In other situations we might avoid asking someone we know because we believe they will give an answer that deep inside we really don’t want to hear.

Have you ever asked someone, “What does your gut tell you?”

Instinct

Instinct, as being referenced here and perhaps by formal definition is connecting your thoughts to what comes natural or feels natural with some specific direction for a choice. It can be illustrated by considering something simple, for example, when you feel hungry you might make a choice to eat. Another example could be when you hear (hearing is instinctual) someone speaking you make a choice to listen, or not.

Gut Feel

Gut feel is different because it might suggest that there are other factors involved in making the decision or choice. Sometimes these factors are conditioned by emotions and because we have feelings connected with those factors we label that decision as coming from having a gut feel. Some people may associate the concept of gut feel to the idea of following your head, or your heart.

Business Case

Imagine you’re at your job and you’re confronted with a tough choice. You may have ethical concerns, integrity complications, or you worry that the choice you make could in some way affect the future for yourself or the organization. Will you make the decision based on instinct or gut feel?  In business many believe that you should leave your emotions out of it. Business is business and there is not any room for emotional issues. However, much of the business that we do is strongly based on emotional choices. We do something because we believe in it, we have passion about it, and it makes us feel good. I see a lot of emotion connected with business and that doesn’t necessarily make it bad.

Critical Thinking

When we are facing tough choices it is often helpful for us to think more critically, analyze the data, deal with facts, and look for patterns. Some people like to expedite decisions while others prefer to drag them out, over analyze, or procrastinate. Sometimes if we ask what led to the final decision someone will say they used their instincts to guide the choice, or they did it by gut feel.

Decisions based on what we might label as instinct or gut feel are often very risky choices. People can sometimes develop strong beliefs based on perception or data that is not accurate. As people we collect more life experiences, some of them good, and some of them not so good. Over time we start to trend that data, based specifically on our own life experiences. Sometimes this data becomes associated with what might be labeled as instinct or gut feel.

What about you, how do you make tough choices?

– DEG

See also: Boomer Decisions, Millennial Decisions

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and coach that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is the author of the newly released book, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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