Enabling difficult leadership decisions

Truly ‘difficult’ leadership decisions are much more unusual than we might imagine, so it helps here to differentiate between ‘important’ and ‘difficult’ decisions.

Difficult decisions, which really test the metal of a chief executive, only make up 1-3% of all possible problems they face on an annual basis – yet the importance of getting the right solution far outweighs any of the other so-called important decisions.

Most of the decisions a chief executive makes are ‘important’, i.e. of significance or value to the organisation. However, for the experienced chief executive these decisions are informed by intuitive thinking, or more automatic decision making ability. Daniel Kanneman would call this System 1 or ‘fast thinking’.

Truly ‘difficult’ decisions require much more effort and skill to successfully resolve.

Difficult decisions, then, are typically those where the solution will have a defining, significant and long-lasting impact upon the success or failure of the entire organisation. In that sense difficult decisions are of a uniquely strategic nature.

If ‘important’ decisions can be resolved through reference to intuition or ‘compressed experience’, ‘difficult’ decisions require a quite different frame of reference if the chief executive is to escape from the biases that tacitly inform and dictate our ‘fast’ and automatic response to problems. If key strategic decisions are to be successfully resolved then it is these biases which must be deliberately filtered out through a ”slower’ and more deliberate approach to thinking.

As a consequence of this recurring challenge Ceannas have been developing and refining a powerful system to enable chief executives to take difficult strategic decisions that break free from the narrow tramlines of experience.

Our model is based upon Ceannas Leadership Index and marries the diverse worlds of ‘behavioural economics’ and the ‘psychology of learning’ into a unique leadership decision-making framework.

Early results are proving very exciting – certainly in terms of assisting the decision making process. However, only time will tell if those alternative solutions will prove to be a strategic success.