Erica Peitler is an intrepidNOW columnist, and is an accomplished leadership performance coach and high-impact facilitator. She works with Fortune 500 companies as well as CEOs from progressive small to mid-sized and privately held organizations. Her new book is Leadership Rigor! She also is co-host on our Leadership on the Ground series.
What new challenges will my company face today?
How will we successfully navigate through them?
We live in a VUCA world: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. As a business professional as well as a Leadership Performance Coach, I empathize with the daunting consequences that leaders face today when they are confronted with tough situations they have not seen before or worse that they have seen before and therefore impulsively make a familiar but limiting choice on how best to move forward.
At this crossroad you have both a leadership and business opportunity. If you are challenging yourself and your organization to be consciously disciplined and make informed choices, you are playing the game of business appropriately, congratulations! If you are sitting on the sidelines leaving things to chance or acting with impulsive arrogance, believe it or not, you are playing a much higher game of risk!
Let’s address a common misperception head-on. You may be surprised at my assertion that there are no good or bad decisions in business. There are just decisions with higher and lower risk profiles. Your role as a leader is to apply conscious discipline and Rigor to the process of decision-making that allows you and your team/organization to come to the best outcomes at the most appropriate level of risk. Here is a (7) step process called Analytical-Rigor™ that can help facilitate your ability to make better decisions:
1. Gather the appropriate Data
2. Frame it into meaningful Information
3. Question + reveal Insights through dialogue
4. Develop a range of potential Choices that can work
5. Make your ultimate Decision.
6. Productively move into aligned Action
7. Monitor your performance, including how your decision lands on those most directly affected.
While the steps of Analytical Rigor ™ may seem straightforward and obvious, the challenge is in facilitating the full process without skipping steps or minimizing the value of the preparation (data/information), engagement (insights/choices) or execution (decision/action) phases. If you are honest with yourself, it is unlikely that all the steps are appreciated or followed leaving you with the potential to make more informed decisions moving forward with your teams/organization.
Gone are the days where “shoot from the hip” impulsive solutions based on previous experiences are a business sure thing or culturally a good thing in organizations. Today’s business environment is different. The mindsets as well as the demographics of our workplace colleagues have changed to be more collaborative as well as inclusive and the competitive landscape is more integrated, less transparent and therefore more unpredictable. So decisions need to be appropriately assessed with the conscious discipline of Rigor and specifically Analytical Rigor™!
For those of you familiar with personality assessments, such as the MBTI Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and how individuals have different preferences for gathering information which is the first step in the decision making process, the (S)ensors in MBTI who are anchored by their past experiences need to take a deep breath and involve their i(N)tuitive colleagues more in the decision-making processes who are likely to be naturally leaning towards future possibilities with less apprehension. With collaborative inclusion you can more appropriately assess the changes and possible solutions that require new insights as well as new connections. The U.S population is dominated by (S)ensors who are not change adverse, but will certainly need rationale for making potential changes so i(N)tuitives who make up only about 25% of the population have their work cut out for them.
Evolving from historical Rigidity to contemporary RIGOR also requires an understanding of how the context and conditions have and continue to change in our external environments.
Here are (3) Watch-Outs for Leaders:
(1) Historical Precedence– Respected, not blindly followed
Underestimating or ignoring how the environmental dynamics are changing due to either evolving competitive conditions or stealth partnerships could render your solutions unrealistic and therefore dangerous in terms of wasting valuable resources.
(2) Not Seeing Entry Points– Because you are not looking
Leaders must be prepared to seek, see and seize opportunities for doing things differently based not only on their observations but also on their courage to act and take calculated risks.
(3) Ignoring Trends and Patterns–That hold predictive insights
Dismissing a trend or insight as an anomaly is a dangerous game today where identifying new solutions that can be disruptive might accelerate your ability to establish meaningful differentiation and create competitive advantage.
While many will try to hold on to their successful approaches of the past, those who lean-in to be “change-ready” leaders for the future will be quick to acknowledge and act on the need to embrace new ideas and new approaches with RIGOR which is: conscious discipline, curiosity, insightful analyses and the courage to take appropriate risks.
There is no resting on your laurels unless you want to go out of business! Rigidity will kill you, Rigor will keep you vibrantly scaling and sustaining your successful business! Which will you choose?
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