The Thing Most Decision Makers Miss


Many leaders I coach are proud of their decision-making skills. They proudly tell me about how they make the tough decisions relying solely on tactical information and analytics. However, during our work together, they usually realize that this is a narrow-sited approach, and serious problems are rarely black-and-white. They quickly learn that even the decisions that seem simple need to consider the human element, and the only way to do this is to have empathy.

Here are a few exercises I do to help my executive coaching clients to increase their empathy and understand the of their decision on employees, customers, and others.

  • Consider what you would care about if you were in another person’s situation. Are they concerned about the future of their employment? Do they need certainty or clarity of the process? Is the ability to have work/life balance important?

  • Ask yourself, and others, what you would be thinking and feeling if you were among the people hit hardest by the decision.

  • Discuss with people similar to those being affected to speak about the potential impact or comparable experience in direct, concrete ways.

  • If a group needs to make the decision, request someone in the room to play the role of someone in the impacted group as realistic as possible. This discussion will allow everyone to hear at least some version of the people's needs a decision will affect.

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