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Good Leaders, Bad Decision


Hans Dijckmans suggests that you read the Harvard Business Review Why Good Leaders make bad decisions - Andrew Campbell, Jo Whitehead and Sydney Finkelstein. The review explains to us that processes like pattern recognition and emotional tagging help us in our daily life to make sound and swift decisions, but can also mislead our judgement. Pattern recognition results in making assumptions based on prior experiences and judgements. Emotional tagging makes us attach emotional information to our thoughts and past experiences which are stored in our memory and drives us towards a particular action to take or not take. As most of these processes happen unconsciously, it’s very hard to detect and correct them. The awareness about these two important processes resulted in the identification of so called “red flag conditions”: the presence of inappropriate self-interest, the presence of distorting attachments and the presence of misleading memories. The review’s main statement is that, when it comes to important (strategic) decisions, we cannot rely on leaders to detect and safeguard against their own errors in judgement. Therefore they propose a nice 7 step process on how to identify red flags and resulting in a more open-minded and group supported decision. Although I very much agree with this theory and proposed safeguards, one can also not deny that there will always be leaders or stakeholders that consider it as a weakness that the decision is not a visionary “one-man-show”. Real leaders for me are the ones empowering and facilitating the decision making process. But this thought is clearly not common sense yet in many organizations.

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About the Contributor:

Attributed Author

Hans Dijckmans

Hans Dijckmans works as an IT solution architect in the financial sector with a particular specialization in security. Hans founded his own company via which he offers his consultancy services. Hans holds a M.E.E (ing.) in Electronics & Information Technology (KULeuven - Groep T) and a Master in Science (ir.) in Electronics & Telecom (KULeuven). He also retains the CISSP certification since 2016. Hans is currently following an Executive Master in Enterprise & IT Architecture (2017-2019).
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