The nine traits behind bad decisions

The nine traits behind bad decisions

The nine traits behind bad decisions A study of 50,000 leaders found poor decision-makers shared certain habits.

None of these nine habits will come as a particular surprise. What leadership consultants Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman did differently was to use feedback data from 50,000 participants in an IT project to see how all of these factors related to each other. They’ve discussed their results on the Harvard Business Review, and we’ve summed up their core points.

In order from most to least significant:

1. Sloppiness

Failure to check facts, confirm assumptions or gather extra input – usually because the decision maker over relied on their own experience.

2. Failure to anticipate

The authors claim that we are actually very good at anticipating negative events, we just don’t like to do so, or go through the necessary due-diligence.

3. Indecisiveness

When making a decision based on constantly changing data, there is a danger in looking for yet another report or analysis before making a decision, in the hope it will take responsibility off your hands.

4. Relying on old processes

Using old data or relying on old approaches can lead to poor decisions, particular when the approaches rely on assumptions that are no longer valid.

5. Ignoring strategy

Trying to relate a proposed decision to your overarching strategy will quickly distinguish ‘OK’ from ‘good’ decisions.

6. Over dependence

Some decisions get lost in a chains of bureaucracy and competing responsibilities – be prepared to make decisions independently if someone is holding you up.

7. Isolation

You can’t find everything on the internet – cultivate the type of relationships which will help you get trusted advice later on.

8. Lack of technical understanding

Whilst leadership is about more than knowing the facts, a basic knowledge of the sector – or at least knowledge of who to ask for help – remains essential.

9. Poor communication

Fairly self-evident, poor communication can lead to a good decision being implemented badly due to misinterpretation.