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Leadership Today - Practical Tips For Leaders

Jul 7, 2023


Decision making and problem solving are significantly important to any leadership role. This week we look at ways to make better decisions.



Hello and welcome to episode 192 of the Leadership Today podcast where each week we share practical tips to improve your leadership. This week we look at ways to make better decisions.

To help us make better decisions, we will explore three elements - the inputs, the outputs, and involving others.

First element, the inputs. We tend to use either an analytical approach or a conceptual approach when considering inputs to our decisions. They are distinct cognitive processes, each with their benefits and limitations.

Analytical thinking is a logical and structured approach to problem-solving that involves breaking down complex issues into smaller components and analysing them individually. It relies on data, facts, and evidence to understand the current situation, identify patterns, and draw conclusions. This could include detailed analysis of the financial situation, or exploring current customer data.

Conceptual thinking is a more abstract and creative cognitive process that involves synthesising diverse ideas, connecting disparate concepts, and envisioning new possibilities. It focuses on the "big picture" and the underlying principles or frameworks that shape a situation. This might involve combining products or services together to reach new customers. It could include drawing on lessons from a completely different industry.

Leaders need to employ analytical thinking to analyse data, evaluate risks, and make evidence-based decisions. At the same time, conceptual thinking enables them to envision future possibilities, set strategic direction, and inspire their teams. By leveraging both approaches, leaders can develop comprehensive insights as an input to decision making. Coming up with our Leadership Today On-Demand service involved both analytical and conceptual thinking. The conceptual idea was to draw lessons from online fitness training and apply these to leadership development. So our service feels quite different to traditional online courses. You don’t have to access content in any particular order. Just start where you’re interested and expand from there. The analytical thinking involved testing the market, reviewing the content people were most interested in, and analysing competitor offerings.

Second element, the outputs. Once we’ve gather information and have completed our analysis, an effective decision needs to consider what could be called both the head and the heart. The head is logical, rational, cold and detached. Here we focus on consistency and objective facts. The heart focuses on the impact of our decisions on people. It’s empathetic, warm, involved and connected. When using a heart approach things can become more subjective, however we can still use rigour when considering the implications of our decisions on the people likely to be impacted.

Third and final element, involving others. We each have preferences around how we take information in and make decisions. I tend to be more of a conceptual and heart kind of person when it comes to analysis and decision making. While that brings some strengths around drawing together broad trends and considering the human impact of decisions, I risk not considering enough data and involving too much emotion in decision making. I therefore involve others at the input and output stages. I find this helpful to check my thinking and ensure I’m not overlooking important information or implications. It’s particularly helpful to involve people who may be directly impacted by the decision making. Here we do need to be clear about what help we are seeking. Is their involvement an input to decision making, or are they actually making the decision? Clarity around involving others is very important.

I hope you found these three elements of effective decision making helpful - the inputs, the outputs and involving others. This week I encourage you to apply one aspect that stood out to you.


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