Being Decisive is Overrated

decision making
This is a guest post by Karen Martin, president of the global consulting firm TKMG, Inc. Her latest book, Clarity First, outlines specific actions to dramatically improve organizational and individual performance.

The Problem with Quick Decision Making

Most leaders agree, it’s important to have clear ideas about the issues that matter to them and their organizations. Yet, leaders are praised far more often for making quick decisions than for thinking clearly.

In such a fast-paced, noisy world, leaders understandably feel the pressure to think and act fast—but this can be to their detriment. Today, more so than ever, it’s critical to give oneself the time needed to assess a situation fully, gather on-point information, and develop a thoughtful position.

Not convinced? Think of it this way: clear thought is a precursor to making good decisions, acting decisively, solving problems, and seizing opportunities in a way that consistently fulfills the organization’s goals.

But, as most leaders will attest, this is much easier said than done. You have to be patient and possess disciplined thinking habits.

Here are three ways to start:

Be mindful.

Mindfulness means paying attention purposefully, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally. It’s a state of being that allows its practitioners to lead with greater clarity by developing a calmer and more focused mind. It introduces a pause between receipt of information and your reaction to it, and it slows thinking processes enough that they become observable.

Mindfulness and the practice of mindfulness meditation is a trending topic in leadership and management literature for good reason: there’s a growing body of scientific evidence showing that mindfulness meditation changes the brain in a powerful, performance-enhancing way. It develops areas of your brain responsible for self-regulation, allowing you to more effectively place your attention where you want it, regulate your mood, and manage your response to information.

Here’s another bonus of mindfulness: it helps create more healthful stress responses and more effective ways for the brain to process large volumes of inputs.

 

“Mindfulness helps create more healthful stress responses and more effective ways for the brain to process large volumes of inputs.” -Karen Martin

 

Ask questions.

Outsmart Change and Future-proof Your Career

flexology

Marketing Flexology

 

If you want to be a successful marketer today, in the middle of constant change, you need to be prepared. If you have a business, you want to stay ahead of marketing trends and be ready for what’s ahead.

Last month, I interviewed Engelina Jaspers about her new book, Marketing Flexology: How to Outsmart Change and Future-proof Your Career. Engelina is a 30-year marketing veteran who helps business leaders build nimble marketing organizations with customer insight and speed to execution at its core. Though the book may be targeted primarily to marketers, I found it full of great advice for individuals and businesses in the midst of change.

 

What is Marketing Flexology?

Our world, our markets, and our customers are in constant evolution. Consumers are no longer as homogenous as they once were in the baby boomer era. If we continue to use the marketing practices of the past, we will fall behind. Marketing success today requires a new management capability and a new marketing model to keep pace, which I call the Marketing Flexology management framework. It’s a nimble structure that allows you to quickly and easily change directions without missing a beat, breaking a sweat… or losing your job!

Copyright Engelina Jaspers. Used by Permission.

 

“There lives in each of us a hero awaiting the call to action.” -H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

 

5 Marketing Shifts 

You share five key shifts in marketing. Is there one that is more challenging for leaders than others?

Marketing has undergone significant transformation over the past sixty years of our young profession. I believe the most seismic has been the shift from “art and science” to “insight and agility.” The need for high-speed listening, learning, execution, and iteration has never been greater, nor the challenge more daunting. Yet we still endlessly debate whether creative and artistic sensibilities, or analysis and measurement are most important. (Do a Google search on the words “marketing art or science” and you’ll see what I mean!) Frankly, customers don’t care what blend of art and science goes into our marketing strategies and programs. They only care how well our message hits a nerve and fulfills a need. And that requires real-time customer insight and the ability to turn that insight into action faster than our competitors. That’s why I believe “insight and agility” is the new “art and science” of marketing and requires a new management capability and framework.

 

“Frankly, customers don’t care what blend of art and science goes into our marketing strategies and programs. They only care how well our message hits a nerve and fulfills a need.” -Engelina Jaspers

 

Prepare for the Unexpected Shifts

Understanding Leadership in the 21st Century

leadership

21st Century Leadership

How can today’s business leaders keep up with the seismic geopolitical and economic shifts in the world?

What do these mean for their own leadership narratives?

In their newly-released book, The Leadership Lab: Understanding leadership in the 21st century, author Chris Lewis and megatrends analyst Dr. Pippa Malmgren set out to help leaders navigate these changes successfully. Covering everything from how to build a new type of leadership trust when other spheres of public power have been overturned to robots overtaking companies, this book explains not only why the old rules no longer apply, but also how to blaze a trail in this new world order and be the best leader you can be.

I recently had the opportunity to ask the authors about their new book and get their thoughts on some of the most important challenges facing leaders today.

 

“’What do you think?’ are the four most powerful words in a leaders armory.” -Lewis and Malmgren

 

Embrace Uncertainty

What are some of the skills required in the 21st century that are different from previous generations of leaders?

The Leadership Lab front coverThere is but one skill required today that is different from previous generations. That is the willingness and ability to embrace uncertainty. Once a leader has abandoned certainty, they are on the path to excellence. The fact-based, research-led, ‘drill-down’ analytical approach that has historically been followed in the pursuit of efficiency is no longer enough. There’s nothing wrong with this, provided it is not at the expense of a ‘look-across’ big picture view. The reductionist model with one right answer at the back of the book promulgated by the infallible (often male) leader, is disappearing. This means the leader can no longer afford to predict one outcome but must now prepare for all outcomes.

 

“There is but one skill required today that is different from previous generations. That is the willingness and ability to embrace uncertainty.” -Lewis and Malmgren

 

What are some of the dangers of over-relying on data analysis when it comes to leadership? 

This is Day One: Leadership That Matters

day one

Everyday Leadership

Leadership educator Drew Dudley has spent the last 15 years teaching a more inclusive concept of leadership. His approach has resonated: his TEDx talk Everyday Leadership (The Lollipop Moment) was voted one of the 15 most inspirational TED talks of all time. His first book This is Day One: A Practical Guide to Leadership that Matters is a Wall Street Journal bestseller. I recently spoke with Drew about his work.

 

Why is it that so many people fail to recognize themselves as leaders?

We’re educated out of our leadership at an early age. The examples you’re given to illustrate a concept shape how you come to perceive it for the rest of your life, and the leadership examples we’re given as kids are usually giants: presidents, scientific groundbreakers, people who conquered empires. As those archetypes are reinforced through media and cultural institutions, we come to see leaders as looking a certain way, sounding a certain way, and having a certain level of profile and influence, and we don’t look for leadership from anyone who doesn’t fit that profile. Most people don’t see themselves as fitting that mold and regularly dismiss moments of impact, generosity, empowerment, courage, growth, etc. as “little things” rather than moments of leadership. How is a moment that causes someone to walk away from you feeling empowered not a moment of leadership? Someone is better off because of you and is likely to pass that along to others. Let’s face it however, because it impacts one person and not hundreds or more, those moments are rarely celebrated as leadership. That type of behavior isn’t how we’re introduced to leadership – it is presented after the giants, and as such is perceived as a somehow “lesser” form.

 

“You can’t add value to the lives of anyone else until you’ve added enough value to your own.” -Drew Dudley

 

Leadership is a Daily Practice

You make it clear that it’s a daily behavior, a daily practice. Why and how did this become a focal point for your leadership teaching?

Presenting leadership as a daily choice makes it far more accessible. I started working with university students—passionate, driven young people who fought for social justice, organized to provide support to their fellow students, volunteered hundreds of hours within their communities, and raised tens of thousands of dollars for charities. However, the vast majority of them didn’t see themselves as leaders. In fact, their perception of themselves was best encapsulated by one student who responded to the question “Why do you matter?” with “Well…I don’t yet. That’s why I’m working so hard.”

As I continued with my work, I found that people of all ages had subconsciously adopted the perspective, “I don’t matter yet, that’s why I’m working so hard.” When leadership is determined by titles and what you have done rather than about behaviors and what you are doing each day, people look at what they haven’t accomplished as evidence they don’t deserve to call themselves leaders.

However, perceiving leadership as a daily choice rather than accolades and influence gained over time reminds us that each and every one of us awakes every morning having done nothing that day to earn the title of leader, and we have the opportunity and obligation to act in ways that impact people and organizations positively. You may have spent 10 years acting in ways that made you the CEO, but on any given day the individual who sweeps the floors in your building could actually engage in more impactful behaviors than you do. On that day, they were a bigger leader than you were. It’s a perspective that keeps you from getting complacent because of what you have done.

 

“Leadership recognized is leadership created.” -Drew Dudley

 

Develop a Personal Leadership Philosophy

5 Ways A Leader Can Learn More About Themselves

ceo
This is an excerpt from Be Chief: It’s a Choice, Not a Title by Rick Miller. For over 30 years, Rick served as a successful business executive in roles including President and/or CEO in a Fortune 10, a Fortune 30, a startup, and a nonprofit.

Do You Want to Be Chief?

Being Chief requires us to develop insight. It is as much about being as it is about being Chief. Insight is a key to increasing your confidence, effectiveness, and, since your power increases as you connect what you do to who you are, deepening your self-understanding through insight will deepen your power. Insight can come from the simplest experiences and from the places you least expect it. Always be on the lookout for gems of insight that can guide your path in life.

There are five ways a leader can learn more about themselves. Specifically, Chiefs choose to be:

  • Present
  • Still
  • Accepting
  • Generous
  • Grateful

Be Present: When you become totally aware and conscious, you can use all of your senses to learn everything possible in the current moment. Specifically, when you give 100 percent of your attention to the people you spend time with, you will find that your relationships become much more fulfilling.

 

“Insight is the understanding that comes from self-awareness. -Rick Miller

 

Be Still: Contrary to many Western cultural norms, perhaps our most important choice is to develop the deeper understanding and truth that comes with being still. To maintain inner balance, choose the tranquility and peace of stillness. In that peaceful state, you will develop the ability to trust and have confidence in your own voice.

 

“Learning how to be still, to really be still and let life happen-that stillness becomes a radiance.” -Morgan Freeman

 

Be Accepting: When you choose to accept people and circumstances for who and what they are, you can escape the frustration of trying to change them. Try to take a nonjudgmental approach to people to open yourself to the potential of clarity and deeper relationships.

When you accept the past and remain receptive to circumstances and people, you can open yourself to the possibilities of learning from all situations and from every individual. When you accept your current reality with a certain degree of detachment, you will find that things come to you with a fraction of the effort otherwise required.

 

“The power to be Chief is a choice. It doesn’t come from a title-it’s a choice anyone can make.” -Rick Miller