Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Four Ways to Show Thanksgiving in Leadership

Four Ways to Show Thanksgiving in Leadership

    Showing thanksgiving as a leader is a very important task to do.  It is important that our teams realize that we share the successes as well as the failures.  I am talking about more than just performance appraisals and feedback.  I am talking about the showing of gratitude by leaders to their subordinates. 

    It is far too easy for subordinates to feel like cogs in a machine due to the everyday swing of operations.  It is important as leaders that we instill a sense of appreciation in our team, after all, they are the ones doing the work.  As leaders, we need to explore the various reasons why to show thanksgiving and then the ways to convey gratitude to our team.

Why Show Gratitude?

    To some people this may seem silly, and hopefully you are one of them.  Showing gratitude is a very important part of maintaining healthy relationships within a team.  Your team needs to know that you appreciate them, and the benefits of them understanding this are many.  A team that feels thanksgiving from their leader or management are more likely to perform, respond to pressure to perform, trust their management more, and have overall healthier relationships with their management team.  Teams who feel that their leadership is thankful for their work are also happier to be a part of a team, which directly boosts day to day morale.  There is something to be said about how individual confidence is maximized when team members believe that their superiors are thankful for their service, and confident team members boost the overall performance of the team.

Four Ways to Show Thanksgiving in Leadership

1. Immediate Follow-Ups

    The most applicable and used technique of showing thankfulness as a leader is certainly the follow-up.  When I refer to follow-up, I am talking about delegating a task, and then following up to assess whether that task was completed adequately.  When you delegate as a leader and follow up to find that the task was successfully completed, an important relationship building tool is to then follow up with the individual that the task was delegated to and let them know that you followed up.  Expressing thankfulness for the successful completion of the task yields multiple benefits.

    The first benefit is one that impacts your span of influence as a manager.  If you delegate a task to an individual and follow up, that communicates that you care about the task and you are willing to see if it will be completed.  It also communicates that the task that you delegated was a chunk of important authority that deserved a part of your attention, and it was not just some mindless drivel that you blindly sent someone off to do in order to keep them busy.  The end game to this is that when you delegate in the future, this individual as well as other individuals uninvolved will be more than willing to carry the authority that you give to them with the delegation, and strive to successfully carry out the task.  The showing of gratitude at the finality of this is the final stamp that seals this exchange.  The delivery of the gratitude can be as simple as a “Thank you”, or “Good job.”

2. Huddle Meeting Topics

    Every day my team and I typically have a start-up and final huddle meeting.  By design during both huddle meetings, on my agenda is a short time set aside to recognize excellence, positive performance, or goals achieved.  It is important that we show thankfulness in this type of forum in front of our team as-a-whole.  By doing this, we completely remove the potential label of us being closed-souled slave-drivers and boost our chances of being perceived by our team as thankful leaders of a successful team.

    Taking time to recognize others and show our thankfulness for their work will create an atmosphere for the positive relationships that are required of a fully functional team and will create great relationships between everyone.  It is important when doing group recognition to identify the correct behaviors to recognize, and publicly thank those who are excelling.  This will create an atmosphere of competition among the team to strive to achieve this type of recognition while supplying those who do excel with the delight of public acknowledgement.

    Despite many people showing bashfulness or unwillingness to accept public displays of thanks and gratitude, I believe the benefits are clear regardless.  No matter the degree of the individual rejecting the public acknowledgement, the benefits of acknowledgement still exist.

3. Performance Appraisal

    A performance appraisal is a regular discussion between a leader and subordinate where the leader outlines how the individual has been performing.  Even in the event of a performance appraisal that contains criticisms and coaching for improved performance, it is still important to show thankfulness.  As leaders we should adopt a thankful attitude to those who are willing to follow us, and even if for no other reason, we should take this opportunity for thanking the individual for being a part of our team.  Depending on the flavor of the performance appraisal, we may include this in the open, close, or both.  We may also center the performance appraisal around our gratitude for having the team member a continuing part of our team in the case of high performing team members.  In any case, we should take a bit of time during our performance appraisals to let our team members know how much we appreciate them.

    Often a performance appraisal is an intimate time between a manager and an employee.  These experiences are memorable and usually either painful or extremely delightful.  A good manager is able to take a performance appraisal that would otherwise be painful and turn it into a situation that both parties can walk away from feeling enlightened and not confused.  Expressing thankfulness and gratitude during these events is one way that we can have a positive impact on the situation in multiple ways.  We can deepen the relationship with our employees as well as create a positive atmosphere for the performance appraisal.

4. Human Conversation

    All too often as leaders we are seen by our team as just another cog in the machine of an organization.  We are thought of just as managers and not as humans, and managers can’t be thankful, right?  Sometimes we need to appeal to our team as fellow humans and reveal that we have human emotions and feelings.  I believe we can do this by engaging in a normal human exchange of words, and then once we are here, we are able to display gratitude.  This will be in a different forum than the other suggestions, and it will probably be more well received, because we are communicating as people, and not as businessmen or businesswomen.  Successfully interjecting thanks into a normal human conversation with members of our team will allow us to deliver a personally received message of thanks that is able to impact our team members on a deeper level than a professional thanks.

The Take Away

    As leaders, it is important that we value our team members as individual humans that follow us in order to complete goals that we subscribe to.  The very act of having those willing to genuinely follow you is a compliment.  We should be thankful for this opportunity, and while we are unable to hide this if it is the case, it is also impossible to hide it if it is not the case.  I challenge every leader in the world to communicate a message of thankfulness and gratitude to their team during this holiday season.  I also challenge anyone who believes that this isn’t tied to your goals to try it and assess your situation after you create a culture of gratitude among your team.  I believe you, like myself, will have concrete proof in the development of your relationships as well as the performance of your team clearly apparent as a result of your show of gratitude.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

2 Key Questions a Leader Should Ask Themselves Before Leading

2 Key Questions a Leader Should Ask Themselves Before Leading

    Sometimes we reach a point in our group, team, or organization where we want to identify an opportunity to step up and lead.  Sometimes it may not be formal or permanent.  It may be a passing thought, or a notion to help the current situation progress along for a short time.  In any case, potential leadership is very thought provoking.  Earlier in my career I would say that it reminds me of going out on a date for the first time, awkward and forced.  As time has passed, I would say that it becomes natural and easy, sometimes making what would be an awkward situation one more bearable for all involved.

    I joined a collegiate organization some time ago where I was required to complete multiple steps before induction.  There were maybe a dozen steps to complete.  Towards the end of this period of induction, I was randomly paired with a group of people.  Among ourselves we had to develop a team complete with assigned jobs and self-prepared meetings.  I feel that this was in a lot of ways a test, because in our first scheduled meeting, we all showed up having no idea what to do.  While my group members and I sat around a table staring at each other and talking it became clear that there was a lack of leadership.  A few members had left early, some other broke off and began talking about life in general, and some were scoffing about how poorly ran the organization was.

     We were all in the dark.  We had no clue what to do or what we were even meeting for aside from us understanding that it was a requirement for induction.  Through this first painful meeting, I had gotten only one thing, someone had to make the next one less painful, assuming anyone even returned.  I decided to take the position of facilitator and prepare for the next meeting, hoping that if nothing else we would have something to do besides gossip about politics.

     Sometimes it takes being placed in an awkward situation with others before it is clear who the leader may be, and sometimes it will be surprising to see who that person is.  Whether it is a blindly assembled group, or a department in an organization, there should be only a few unorganized gatherings before it becomes clear who the leader is.  Here we look at some key questions to ask ourselves to determine if we have identified an opportunity to lead.


1.  Do we have the functional or technical knowledge required to lead?

    Having the functional knowledge to lead a group is a key question to ask yourself.  It is not a black and white barrier that should direct whether you pursue a leadership role.  It should, however, give you the direction that you should take if you do decide to pursue that leadership role.  If you conclude that you do not have a lot of functional knowledge of the group that you want to lead, then we must understand this if we decide to push forward.
    Function or technical knowledge is the boots-on-the-floor know how of getting a job done and demonstrating successful action against the task.  A leader that has a load of technical knowledge and the skills related to successfully obtaining the goals will approach leading a team a bit differently than one who has little technical knowledge.  To this leader I would suggest a teaching and mentoring strategy.  A lot can be gained, and relationships can be developed by a leader who has knowledge to distribute among a group of peers.

    A lack of functional or technical knowledge does not mean that we should avoid pursuing leadership.  It should be a factor in your decision though, as opting to lead without having a broad span of knowledge of the tasks at hand does make the job more difficult.  To the leader without technical knowledge, I would advise taking a learn together approach, and never shy away from the opportunity to learn from a team member.  There is great value in allowing a team member the opportunity to teach you something.

    In my case, I chose the latter approach.  I knew that I had the ability to publicly speak, as well as research and present information that I had acquired, so I contacted my group and let them know as long as no one opposed it that I would have something prepared for us to review at our next meeting.  After scheduling the day with everyone, I was nervous about what may happen.

2.  Do we have proper relationships established with our team?

    One of the most difficult situations that a leader can face is being thrust into a new team with the expectation of leading them.  Success isn’t guaranteed, goals are not understood, and the people can sometimes be strangers.  It is much more favorable to lead a team that you have already had the opportunity to develop relationships with.  Developing relationships is one of the key tools of a leader.  It is arguably one of the most important things that a leader can do, and the flavor of these relationships will often determine the level of success that a leader will experience.

    To a leader that has had the opportunity to develop proper relationships with his team, I would suggest that he search those relationships and make certain that they are facilitating good communication as well as mutual respect.  If these two qualities of a relationship aren’t present, then the leader should be doing things to foster the growth of them.  Without these qualities in the relationships, success will be very difficult.  If good communication and mutual respect are present, the ability to lead will be readily available and from here it is simply undertaking the task.

    After being thrust into an environment with strangers, and attending a dry pointless meeting, I knew that we had to turn it around.  It seemed clear that we were all good communicators that had adequate mutual respect; however, our little organization just required some leadership.  In this informal situation, it was as simple as standing up and doing it.  I didn’t believe it should be a forceful or delegatory thing, rather, I first communicated that I had done some research on how our group should be put together and suggested that if no one else had any material, that I be allowed to present what I had learned.

     After playing a presentation that I had found on my chapter’s website, I outlined what I thought the meeting should include and led the discussion.  I asked questions and listened to answers.  As we continued and time passed, we all became more familiar with each other and felt exactly what it was that this challenge was about.  This wasn’t some formal take-charge-and-conquer test, rather, it was a test of our ability to come together as a team and hold each other accountable to being team members.

The Take Away

    I believe these are two key questions we should ask ourselves before we decide to venture into the idea of leadership in any situation.  Regardless of our direction of thought, or where we end up after pondering all the information, I believe that the task of asking ourselves the questions better prepares us to lead.  We can further analyze and break this down, however the idea itself is intended to spark the thinking that a potential leader should be doing before undertaking the task.

    In some instances, we may decide that leadership in the current situation isn’t for us, or that there is someone better suited.  To that I would say, even a leader knows when to follow.  A good leader knows when to be led.  It should not be taken as a failure when it becomes apparent that there is someone more qualified to lead a team than ourselves, rather, we should still fulfill our obligation to be team members and continue to strive to achieve the organizations goals, however big or small.

    It is important as leaders that we continue to think about these things as we travel through life and come across different situations that require different things of us.  It is important that leaders identify situations where we believe that our service as a leader will affect the outcome of the group for the better, and to allow ourselves to be a special part of the group, for the better of the group.  There is no more fulfilling thing to be than a servant leader, and that will be a topic of future discussion.

Friday, November 22, 2019

5 Benefits of Blogging as an Entrepreneur

5 Benefits of Blogging as an Entrepreneur

Why Blog as an Entrepreneur?

    Taking some time to think about entrepreneurship and how I would approach the subject, my mind kept returning to blogging.  This is probably because starting a web log, or blog, is my latest venture that I have been dumping time in, and I believe that it is a good starting point for articles on entrepreneurship.  A blog doesn’t have to be an entrepreneurial venture.  I remember a decade or so ago when online platforms such as Myspace and Xanga were dominant blog-style social media outlets where a good bit of cultural development happened.  From here we were introduced to Facebook and a host of other social media websites that resulted in the people of the earth becoming much more connected.

    Fast forward a bit and we can see that blogging has become a multi-faceted tool to get yourself out there, however you want to be out there.  Some use blogging as a means of communication and connection with others, while some use it as a tool to publish writing.  I have found it particularly interesting that there are those passionate about writing that are using their blog to become entrepreneurs.  I am amazed at all the different ways to monetize a blog and impressed with the ingenuity of the generations that take part in this fun activity.

    More than just engaging an audience and recording parts of their lives, bloggers are building a brand and starting a business on just about everything.  This is where I got hooked, because of the unlimited potential of what you can do with a blog paired with all the powerful tools and techniques you can use while writing about what you love.

1. Create a Brand

    Blogging really allows you to create a brand that is you.  It allows you to take your passions and interests and turn it into hope.  Creating a brand that is you also allows a level of self-expression that is hard to match.  When you identify the things that are yourself, you are actively creating your own brand.  When you apply yourself to the world via the many social platforms, you are distributing your brand.  This is very fulfilling and regardless of whether there exists the topic of monetization, the act of doing it is very rewarding.  By creating yourself as a brand, this opens many routes of opportunity and potential that you can tap into in the future as well as the opportunity to deliver the blog into a full-fledged business.

    We must understand what we mean when we say, “to create a brand.”  A brand is the essence of one’s product or the mark placed upon it by the name.  Blogging allows us to define who we are and thus fabricate our brand.  We can then use this to pursue many avenues of entrepreneurship that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to without a brand.

2. A Deeper Understanding of Your Content

    You can literally choose anything to blog about.  The subject that you specialize in will commonly be referred to as a “niche”.  You will typically find that even if you choose something that you are very knowledgeable in, to write and deliver rich content that is fully encompassing will require a little bit more research deeper into the topic.  This need to research the topic deeper is a great motivator to expand your knowledge.  This expanse of knowledge will undoubtedly lead to personal growth.  For this reason, I believe that blogging about anything will lead to a deeper understanding of something that you are interested in, and this is intrinsically valuable.

    It is commonly recommended that bloggers, much like in other areas of marketing, find a niche to specialize in and focus on that.  The more general your topic, the thinner your audience.  By selecting one ultra-specific niche or topic and sticking to it, you can focus on the readers that are interested in this subsection or specific area of a subject.

    I am potentially breaking the rules here.  I homed in on leadership as my primary niche, but then follow it up with the term business, that may encompass many things.  I do this on purpose but am constantly evaluating my decision.  My reasons for this are twofold.  The first is wanting to take advantage of the specific target audience that I am interested in.  I want to grow as a leader as well as help others grow as leaders.  I am very passionate about leadership specifically and want to direct my content towards this.  The other is that I want to explore entrepreneurship as a business student and use this as not only a method of being an entrepreneur, but to explore the entrepreneurial scope of this adventure as well.

3 Expand Your Knowledge and Networks

    When you begin blogging, one of the first steps is to get involved with blogging communities in order to be heard.  This doesn’t happen accidentally, and it requires effort on the part of the blogger.  This requires time reading and absorbing other writing and content.  The time spent poring over others’ blogs and reading their articles will increase our own knowledge on topics that we know and enjoy, as well as give us plenty of opportunity to learn about topics that we are unfamiliar with.  Getting involved with blogging will directly add value to you by opening you up to reading material that you otherwise would not bother to read and learn things that you otherwise would not bother to learn.

    If you are largely introverted as I am, you simply do not communicate with people regularly.  Getting involved in the blogging community gives us an excuse to actively engage others with the same interests in us in a very direct and positive way.  In my short time blogging I have had the opportunity to become a part of circles that I otherwise would not be a part of and reach out to several people that I would have otherwise not.  This has provided opportunity for connection to other real people that I would have neglected, and the connection itself has proven healthy and beneficial to me.

4. Present Entrepreneurial Opportunities

    Perhaps my favorite, starting and committing to a blog will open opportunities to expand your entrepreneurial horizons.  It is no secret that there are many successful internet marketers out there that make a handsome full-time income from presenting themselves as bloggers and dealers in e-commerce.  Starting and maintaining a blog is a hobby for some, and a full-time job for others.  Regardless of why you begin blogging, maintaining your blog will present opportunities to expanding it into a business.

    By getting involved in blogging and engaging the community surrounding blogging, we will make connections that we wouldn’t otherwise make that are involved in industries that we wouldn’t otherwise experience.  We can easily see where others have gained success and seek to mimic them, as well as try our own strategies on an internet platform with relatively low monetary investment.

    The discipline of maintaining a blog in and of itself allows us the opportunity to see a business in full swing.  Peering in at other businesses and studying their models, I saw a lot of operations, but little of the other activities involved.  It wasn’t until I began blogging that I realized how much went into marketing and marketing strategies.  Running your blog as a business is highly beneficial in helping to understand the input required for becoming an entrepreneur.  From here, the sky is the limit, and you may take the blog anywhere you wish.

5. Grow as a Writer

    It is no secret that being a writer takes both discipline and skill.  Blogging regularly exercises the muscles of your mind that correspond to writing.  This builds our creative muscle as well as technical skills.  If being an author and reaching an audience is a goal, then growing as a writer will only help us achieve that.  Despite thinking that blogging is just sloppily recording some content and posting it on a message board, it is much more than that.  We may get as much or as little as we want from regularly blogging.  With just two months into blogging, I already feel its benefits on my mind.  The downside to this is the discipline it takes to regularly create and submit content for others.

    The goal of growing as a writer should be rooted in personal development, however, there is nothing wrong with seeking the benefits associated with it as it relates to being an entrepreneur.  There are many career writers that survive on the income that they generate from writing.  There are many more that wish that they could make a survivable income from their writing.  Blogging would be a good place for these individuals to start to develop their skills and build their brand.

The Take Away

    An entrepreneur is someone who organizes and operates a business or businesses and assumes the risk.  A blog is frequently treated as a business and relatively easy to monetize.  If you are interested in entrepreneurship, I would recommend exploring blogging as a possible avenue to begin your entrepreneurial ventures.  There are many more reasons for this, and taking this route really requires you to open your brain to begin solving some of the most basic entrepreneurial dilemmas that you will face in any industry, such as; how to make money, what you are going to do, and how you are going to do it.  We can further use our blogs to grow as individuals and explore ourselves. 


    When I had decided that I wanted to start a blog, I was really aiming for a few certain things.  I wanted a potential avenue to make additional income, I wanted to do something that would leave me feeling accomplished, I wanted to do something that my family would be proud of and could readily see, and I wanted to grow myself as an individual.  All these things are what has set me on my journey with my chosen niche.  After exploring the culture of bloggers, I noticed that there were a lot of people that were blogging about blogging and were successful at it.  I did not want to be a niche blogger about blogging, because it just didn’t mesh within me.  I still want to avoid this, and this bit of content wasn’t intended to redirect my interests away from leadership and business principles and toward blogging, however, I wanted this to be a lever of entrepreneurial exploration.

    The more I explored the culture of blogging the more that I discovered that there were blogs tied to a lot of industries.  I searched and researched many topics and industries and found that many of them had a blog or some sort of modern media associated with them as a part of their marketing strategy.  While I personally haven't begun an entrepreneurial journey and then created a blog in order to support and drive it, I like to think that I have done this backwards, and created a blog that is now looking to drive an entrepreneurial journey, and this is exactly what this is about.  I do not discredit the path of creating a business and then using a blog to support it, however, this is just not the path that I am travelling.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Group Decision Making

Group Decision Making

    As leaders and managers, we frequently encounter problems that may be bigger than us and require more than us as individuals to solve.  We must look forward and determine if these situations would be better to call in a team of people to attempt to solve the problem.  While this is more common at certain levels of management than others, these strategies can be applied in many different areas with as large or as small of a team as you wish to use to conduct them.

    There are some intrinsic benefits as well as disadvantages to using groups to approach problem solving and decision making.  We need to keep in mind some generalizations about employing a group to tackle issues.

Pros and Cons to Using a Group

    A group may be great in that it allows us a larger amount of knowledge overall.  We can tap into multiple different perspectives on issues, stimulate one another, and engage in meaningful discussion while building relationships.  Using a group usually gives us better understanding of the decision in the end because of the exploratory process during the exchange of communication during the group meeting.  I would agree that there is also a deeper commitment to the solution of the problem so long as a real consensus results from the conclusion.  For the members of a group working on the problem, there usually exists a feeling of one-ness or belonging that brings members of the group together.

    On the opposite side of the coin, there are some disadvantages to using a group to problem solve or make decisions.  Groups take time to put together, and even more time to come to an agreement.  The time it takes for a group to come to a conclusion is usually exponentially longer than it would take an individual to make a decision.  For this reason, we need to make sure that we select the correct situation to employ a group.  Groupthink is a term we use to describe when all members of a group agree with each other regardless of their personal beliefs.  Groupthink can undermine the ability of a group to do what it set out to do.  Another common disadvantage of employing a group is that a few tend to frequently dominate or intimidate the discussion which prevents others from really being heard.

    We should also explore the tendency for a group to engage in goal displacement, where the initial goal of the group meeting is replaced by another goal, which may be as simple as winning an argument that arose during the meeting between two coworkers.  We need to avoid such things as this as well as satisficing, or, settling for a sub-optimal decision and not allowing the group to produce the most optimum result.

Analyzing the Cons

    As we can see there are a lot of cons to creating a group forum to take on a problem or issue.  What this means is that when we decide to employ a group to engage a problem, we need to do so strategically and take advantage of possible benefits.  The benefits listed above for using a group need to be maximized, and the group chosen needs to be chosen with exploiting those benefits in mind.  We must exploit the benefit of having a larger pool of knowledge by choosing group members that each contribute something unique to the group.
    We must minimize the cons when we begin our journey into using a group by 

understanding that groups can be less efficient because they take more time to come to a decision than a single person would.  We need to realize that the size of the group will play a direct role in the quality of the decisions made by the group, as well as the communication contributed by each member.  We cannot allow overconfidence to appear as a burden on our group, with the members going into the meeting thinking that they need to contribute less because, after all, a group is working on it that could afford them an opportunity to slack.

Considering the Group Approach

    A group approach should be considered when it can clearly increase the quality of the outcome or decision.  We must honestly ask ourselves when we encounter a decision, “are we able to make a quality decision without the help of others?”  If there is no quality perk, then why wouldn’t we just make the decision ourselves?  We also need to take acceptance of the decision into consideration.  Often a decision is more widely accepted if more than one person is involved in its conception, and people may feel like jumping on board if they know that a group of people took time to come together to reach it.

    There is also a developmental factor that should be considered when we are thinking about applying a group approach to solving a problem or making a decision.  We need to ask ourselves if there is opportunity for the development of the organization or the individuals of the group.  We should take some time on this part of considering the group approach, because often the development of the leaders of an organization may be more of a benefit of the group forums than the conclusion or the reason for meeting in the first place.  This affords us a multi-shot strategy for organizational improvement in a lot of cases.

The Take Away

    I really enjoy the discussion and comradery involved in a group setting, and I enjoy being a part of group meetings.  I think it is beneficial to team members and leaders alike to feel like they are considered when an important decision is being made.  I think too little focus is put on the development of the team, organization, and individuals when we allow a foster of group thinking to be created.  Too often we focus on the cons to using a group and for that reason we avoid using one.  While I think it may be silly to employ a group to make every little decision, we need to have a consistent group dialogue tackling some important decisions along many different fronts.  There should be common forums where groups meet to make decisions that may be outside of the box, and that is fine, because this still takes advantage of the developmental benefits of allowing a group to engage in the decision making and problem-solving process.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Using Intuition in Decision Making

Intuitive Decision Making in Leadership and Management

What is Decision Making?

    A fork in the road, options, and choices all afford us the opportunity to make decisions.  Making decisions, and more importantly, making effective decisions is a staple in leadership.  It is difficult to be a leader or manager and continue to make bad decisions.  It is also true that it is hard to continually make good decisions and not be looked at as a leader.  “Decision making is the process of identifying and choosing alternative courses of action.” “A decision is a choice made from among available alternatives.” (Kinicki et al, 2020) 

A System of Decision Making

    Nobel Prize in economics winner of 2020, Daniel Kahneman authored Thinking, Fast and Slow.  In his book he summarized systems of decision making.  We will be focusing on his first system of decision making, known as the “intuitive and largely unconscious” system.  I recommend his book for a read if you are interested in researching this further and have included the link immediately below.

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman 7th (seventh) Impression edition by Kahneman, Daniel(Author) published by Doubleday Canada (2011) [Hardc

Leaders and Managers Making Decisions

    There exists a rational model for decision making, that boasts completely acquiring information, removing emotion from the equation, and coming to the most optimal decision for the organization.  While this is ideal in a perfect world, we often find that this is unrealistic.  We run into problems such as the inability to accurately collect all the information, as well as completely removing our emotions from the situation.  There are many problems and issues here that can hold us back.  Time, money, and values are just three.  Due to this, we look at the way managers make decisions in the real world.

    When making decisions in the real world, in a real organization, managers and leaders turn to a system of non-rational decision making.  While referring to it as non-rational, it may have a negative net effect on us consciously, but all this means is that we are not compiling and analyzing all the information to make the most optimal decision.  We should strive to do this, however, as managers and leaders with deadlines, schedules, and other requirements, it is difficult to do so.

The Satisficing Model

    Herbert Simon, a 1950s economist who received the Nobel Prize described the satisficing model as “managers seeking alternatives until they find one that is satisfactory, not optimal.” (Kinicki et al, 2020)  If we study this, we understand that sometimes there is efficiency in coming to a decision that satisfies the current situation, however, may not be the optimal decision at the time.  There is a level of sacrifice here in that we are not making the most effective decision, but we are making one effective enough.  The trade off is that we are able to then distribute the saved time, money, and other resources to focus on other decisions and tasks that need to be addressed as well.  There may be times that we are able to come closer to making an optimal decision depending on the circumstances, however, there is a large varying degree of middle ground depending on the situation.

    While a lot of organizations and leaders want to believe a real pie in the sky idea that good leaders and managers always make the best, most optimal decisions that they can for their organizations, the truth is that this isn’t always the case.  This is also the case with life in general.  We are often pulled in many different directions, and that results in us not being able to completely analyze all situations and requires us to be able to make a decision that satisfies the current situational goals and necessary outcomes while affording us more time to tackle other problems.  Even in parenting, it is common to shortchange adding up all the nutritional value of baby foods to ensure that the child is getting one hundred percent daily value of all nutrients in lieu of scheduling a visit with the doctor to address a persistent fever.  We are not making a complete sacrifice; however, we are making a determination of what is satisfactory and then moving on.

    Sometimes we shortchange the decision-making process too much.  Situations where we do not give ourselves proper time to analyze even for a satisficing type decision can be referred to as snap situations, where snap decisions are made.  Often, we find ourselves in situations where a quick decision is required and there is no getting around making one.  We cannot allow ourselves to be beat up by these situations, and as I always say, “You win some, you lose some.”  Many times, you will find that a poor decision is better than indecision, especially in leadership.  I would suggest that you try to foresee these decisions so that quick draw decisions are kept to a minimum, as forced quick decisions carry the most risk.

Intuition, the Intuitive Model

    Intuition is known as “going with your gut”, or “Making a choice without the use of conscious thought or logical inference.” (Kinicki et al, 2020) This is a shoot from the hip approach that can be honed to accuracy.  I would describe intuition as the awareness of unconscious self-talk.  Pure intuition carries no knowledge, experience, or expertise in the area where the decision is made and is said to be extremely risky.  In leadership and management, however, we want to be well informed on the topics that we are making intuitive decisions on.  Our experience and expertise in our areas paired with an intuitive approach allows us to make a decision known as a holistic hunch.

    When afforded the opportunity to make a decision that relies on intuition, we should always allow our knowledge in the general area of the decision to play a role in that decision.  This keeps us from shooting in the blind as well as allows us to develop our intuition and increase our chances of using intuition and reaching a close-to-optimum decision.  This takes practice and courage.  Let’s face it, to make a decision in an important or high-pressure setting based on a gut feeling is very bold.  If we continually refrain from using this approach and always take say, a rational approach, our team will quickly notice this lack of intuition and at least subconsciously think it as a mark against our leadership.

1. Recognizing Your Intuition

    The first step at developing our intuitive senses is to be able to accurately identify situations where they should be applied.  We shouldn’t force this search, rather, we should strive to stay mindful in all situations and search our own feelings.  We must be able to recognize when we feel a certain way about something in terms of an innate right-or-wrong.  This is achieved by first finding what just feels wrong.  Everyone has been placed in a situation where everything feels wrong, and your guts are screaming at you to turn and run the other direction.  It is in this place that exists in our mind, but referred to as our guts, that is the platform for intuitive thinking.  Once we recognize applicable situations, we must learn to listen to ourselves, and not only in those situations that tell us to run away.  The most difficult part of developing intuition is knowing when we should strive for something or go for it.  The gut feeling to pursue is usually a much duller sensation than that of the feeling to flee.

2. Using Your Intuition

    Once we can mindfully be aware of when we are communicating with ourselves subconsciously, we are able to use this self-communication to make decisions.  This is powerful because it removes having to use our conscious mental resources to make decisions that are optimum.  This when developed allows us to make optimum decisions with little effort.  A fallacy here is that undeveloped application of intuition is akin to shooting in the dark, and we should seek to develop our intuitive abilities in order to make the best use out of them and take our leadership and management skills to the next level.

    After the initial recognition of intuitive thought, we must extract what we have told ourselves subconsciously.  This is achieved by assessing our feelings about the situation.  With practice it becomes clear, but at first it may just be a feeling that we have to identify through trial and error.  At first it may seem that your intuitive thought is clouded with emotions and other subconscious clutter and that trusting these thoughts will result in very muddy decisions that don’t help much of anyone, much less the organization.

    I recommend at first, we use lower profile situations in order to develop our intuition to a satisficing level before applying it to more important decisions within your life and organization.  This is one of those skills of development that just by acknowledging it gives you a boost in ability to practice it.

3. The Feedback Loop: Did My Intuition Serve Me Well?

    The third step in developing and using your intuition is to then engage in a feedback loop.  This is probably the most important step because this is the step that facilitates development and growth.  We need to recognize that we encountered a situation where our subconscious minds engaged in self-talk that led us to make a decision.  We need to follow this up with how that decision performed for us in order to determine the accuracy of the intuitive gut-feeling. 

    This is important, because if we are making poor decisions based on intuition, we may not be making them on true intuition and instead making them based on other feelings or emotions.  It is as important to recognize that we are making intuitive decisions as much as it is that we do make intuitive decisions, and even more so, because what is the point in constantly shooting in the dark?

The Take Away

    Intuition is a very useful tool to help us as leaders and managers make decisions.  Intuition is subconscious communication within us that analyze problems and produce decisions immediately and without our knowledge.  These decisions and analyses present themselves in the form of “gut-feelings” that persuade us to consciously act or decide.  We can learn to trust our subconscious analytical self and its products as decisions after understanding what they are by remaining mindful of three things; recognizing intuitive situations, actively using your intuition to come to conscious decisions, and then analyzing the results to determine whether your subconscious mind came to a satisfactory conclusion in the form of a decision.  This provides the foundation of developing a powerful skill in leadership.


    Kinicki, Angelo, Williams, Brian K. (2020) Management: a practical introduction, 245-        247