Mental agility training - start with, "I could be wrong"
Whatever role you have in life probably involves making lots of decisions and evaluating things. For example, we assess each other's performance, which option adds the most value, and we make predictions.
The problem is we often suck at it. Our biases, emotions and filters often get in the way of making decisions that add value for ourselves and our team.
Know your enemy – know your biases
If you ask classic questions like:
a) "If a bat costs $1 more than a ball and both cost $1.10 in total, how much does the ball cost."
b) "If you are running a race and you pass the person in second, which position are you now in?"
(Correct answers 5c and second)
If you got one or both answers wrong, you may have fallen for the “rush to solve” heuristic bias. People who tend to get these types of questions wrong would score poorly on a cognitive reflection test. Being good at mental agility means pausing and actively searching for information that opposes your views and opinions.
Low scores on this test predict the degree to which people make poor decisions and judgments at work. And is also associated with how much time people spend on smartphones!
Good leaders tend to have the ability to be agile in their decision making, curious about the opinions of others, open to different viewpoints, prepared to change views and understand that displaying uncertainty is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Let's champion words like, "I don't know, let's find out together."
Smart leaders know that the knowledge from the wisdom of a wise crowd of experts usually leads to better decisions than relying on one person.
You can harness the wisdom of your wise crowd at work through dialogue, creating psychologically safe spaces and using anonymous data gathering tools such as Mentimeter. Anonymous opinion gathering helps us avoid some of the consequences of groupthink and the cascade impact and anchoring bias when a dominant person in a team speaks first.
The loudest voice in the room isn't necessarily (or probably) the smartest.
Pause, listen, reflect, act
Reflective thinking rather than impulsivity is effortful, but it helps people make better life decisions.
To start with, you've got to be present - that takes practice. Secondly, you've got to be more aware of the impact of biases on decision making. And lastly, find out what your biases are and check in with your colleagues to share ideas.
And check in with your colleagues.
And check in with your colleagues …and repeat for ever.
Some light bedtime reading
If you want to know more about the biases and noise which lead to poor decision making (and how you can overcome them) to help make informed decisions, contact me today about our leadership mental agility.
I'll come in and share ideas with your team about recognising biases and how to manage them.
Or, for a much cheaper option (though less fun), read "Thinking fast and slow" by Daniel Kahneman, "Focus the hidden driver of excellence" by Dan Goleman, "The upside of irrationality" by Dan Ariely and Kahneman's new book, "Noise – a flaw in human judgment."
Basically, any book written by a Dan.
These are amazing books that are a must-read for anyone needing to make informed judgments, evaluations and predictions about the future.