Berger Leadership Blog

Categories: Leadership

How to keep an open mind while making decisions

Dan BergerWe hear it all the time: Don't jump to conclusions. Get all the facts before making your decision. But that is easier said than done.

We each have personal biases – based on our experiences and beliefs – that influence the way we view the world and our decision making. Whether we recognize this flaw, many of us likely make decisions based on a gut reaction, and then find reasons to support it. And for whatever reason, there's a negative connotation associated with changing your mind that can hinder our ability to see other options and pursue a route that differs from our initial inclination.

This is a challenge that great leaders must overcome.

In a recent blog post, leadership guru Dan Rockwell offers strategies to help leaders through the decision-making process that goes deeper than making a pros and cons list. Here are the areas to think through and come to the best decision:

  • Problems: Oftentimes, the problem that is brought to us isn't the root or there are many contributing factors. Leaders must look at the bigger picture, ask questions, and work to determine what actions will address the problem most effectively.
  • Process: Especially in the decision-making process, transparency is key. Communicate with your team the steps you're taking, the options your considering, how they can contribute, and what factors will determine to your ultimate decision.
  • Emotion: Emotion plays a big role in our decision making, so it's important to be aware of your mental state. Are you scared about the outcome? Angry about the issue? Worried about how your decision will affect others? If your mentality isn't where it should be to make the best business, take a step back and return to it when you have a clearer mind.
  • Options: It's good to have options under consideration. After the fact-finding step, narrow your list to the top few best options and dive into each of their scenarios – bringing in others from your team with different points of view – to consider the outcomes.
  • Bragging: We each strive to lead in a way that we – and those around us – will be proud of. What benefits can you tout from this decision?
  • Relationships: Successful business is driven by your relationships with employees and members/customers. Consider how your decision could impact key stakeholders and weigh the costs and benefits.
  • Members/Customers: At my organization, serving our members' best interest is our top priority. If you filter your decision making through the lens of your members/customers, you will be guided in the right direction.
  • Mission: If your decision doesn't help you fulfill your company's mission, it's not the right one.
  • Authenticity/Values: Our actions show the world who we are. As you go through the decision-making process, think about what it will say about you and your organization.

I've been in leadership roles for a long time. Sometimes, your gut reaction will be the right one. But putting that initial choice through Rockwell's process against other options – while intentionally working to be unbiased – will ensure you land in a good place.

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About the Author

B. Dan Berger, President and CEO, NAFCU

Dan BergerB. Dan Berger first joined NAFCU in 2006 and helped turn the association into the premiere advocate for the credit union industry. Since becoming president and CEO in 2013, Berger, who is also an author, economist, and one of Washington's top lobbyists, is credited with bringing national attention to key policy issues, while ensuring NAFCU's members meet policymakers at the highest levels of government.

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