Leaders’ Decision Dilemma

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In today’s increasingly complex world, making decisions has become more difficult. F. Scott Fitzgerald said  “the test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to functionâ€.

How do we do so?

Roger Martin suggested that the best leaders are those who have this capacity and who, because they do, are able to reject a false choice and create a new option. In other words, the best leaders today are able to grasp the tension between contrasting ideas and, when possible see if a third alternative is possible based on trying to meet both sets of needs.

How do we train them to do so?

Through deliberate practice – engaging them in real experiences where they need to resolve the conflicts or engaging in simulations that allow them to do so. In one of the Star Trek movies, the future Captain Kirk was faced with a leadership test as a cadet. No matter what he did, he would lose until he figured out the software was designed to ensure that everyone lost. So, he hacked the software. When he beat the challenge, he was accused of cheating – because as the testers said – the mission was impossible. Kirk responded that as a leader, when faced with a mission, his job was to make it possible, which included the right to hack the software. As we all know, that “victory†portends many more in which he goes outside the “rules-box†to figure out a solution.

Unlike all presidents after World War II, Ronald Reagan did not accept the premise that the world needed to consist of the “American led West†vs. the “Soviet led Eastâ€. And with a different approach, he set up the conditions for the Soviet Union to implode.

What do you do when the conditions presented to you limit your ability to achieve your goal?  Share with us how you reject false choices and create new options and the results achieved!