The Cowboy Blog

When Good Leaders Make Bad Decisions

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sometimes good leaders make poor choices. It's a fact of life. In a Harvard Business Ideacast interview, Dartmouth professor Sydney Finkelstein said, "being a successful leader is not just about intelligence, not just about being smart, it's about actually making the right moves at the right time."

So how do we, as leaders, learn to make the right moves? Mr. Finkelstein gives four "red flag conditions" that may indicate we are headed in the direction of a bad decision.
  • Misleading Experience - Unless our past experiences are a close match to the existing conditions, they may mislead us
  • Self-Interests - Sometimes our sub-conscious will lead us in a direction that isn't in the best interest of the organization
  • Pre-Judgements - We might have a tendency to stick by early decisions and look for supporting data, while discounting any opposing information
  • Attachments - We may be influenced by emotional attachments to people, places or things
In our efforts to become great leaders we should look for these red flags when making key decisions. If any of them are present, evaluate the situation and determine if they are leading you toward a bad decision.

3 Comments:

Blogger Joe said...

I think everybody who has been in a leadership position has made a bad decision, that doesn't mean a bad leader, just a bad decision.

February 28, 2009 at 6:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great gut check! Think before you act, consider the other's affected by your actions, and then do what is right!
Thank you for this thought on Leadership!

March 2, 2009 at 9:46 AM  
Anonymous Kevin R. said...

I had a manager at a previous job who let "pre-judgements" get in the way of effective leadership. He was so concerned about his image that he would convince himself that a faulty decision was correct!

March 2, 2009 at 5:55 PM  

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