Why humans make crap decisions!

Why humans are crap at making decisions

I’m 50 years of age. And despite all my life experience, and how much I know about the human brain, I still make crap decisions – though I think many fewer than I used to!

In my youth I was one of those people who stood out as having ‘potential’ and was given many opportunities for promotion and leadership. Back then, however, we had limited (if any)leadership or people management training.  And the training we had would be literally laughed at today as completely superficial and useless.

But I did the best I could, and I made some poor decisions.  I recruited poorly, I misread intentions, I disregarded valuable input from others (because I knew best)! I also listened to the wrong people’s advice, made inaccurate and unfair judgments, and I inadvertently put people off-side through my choice of ‘language’ and my penchant for telling them what I thought they wanted or needed to be told.

I survived of course, and actually did a pretty good job. But when I look back now, I constantly bemoan that if I knew back then, what I know now, my impact as a leader would have been much higher and much more useful, and the job of leading humans would have been much easier.

So why is that we are naturally poor at making decisions?

Much of it stems from our built-in, primitive survival drivers. We are hardwired to be biased, to make assumptions, and to push back, retreat or defend when under threat.

And what’s more, when we do these things, we are not conscious of them, and we do not believe that we are being ineffective. Our internal survival biases seek out evidence that confirms that we are doing a great job, even when we aren’t.

Now this can be a bit of a problem in organisations as you could well imagine, but there are number of things we can do to reduce these human barriers to making good decisions.

  1. We can teach people about how the brain thinks;
  2. We can teach people to look for, recognize and mitigate human biases;
  3. We can adjust our organisational processes to eliminate or reduce biased judgments.

Want to learn more….and get up-to-date on the latest in brain-based leadership?

Come along to one of my ‘New York and Next Year’ events in December – Brisbane and Sydney, where I will unpack the research and case studies from the recent NeuroLeadership Summit I attended in New York.

Bonus:  There will also be a powerful session for you to unpack the sure way to achieve your stretch goals for next year – based on neuroscience – of course!  I look forward to seeing you there!

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