I think the cartoons below are hilarious, but I would not call the lemming in front a leader. A true leader would never blindly follow a path following some instinct, urging his charges on without contemplating the end game.
So, how do we avoid running off the business “cliff” when making big decisions, since research indicates we are programmed to follow? Here are some ideas:
- Listen to dissenting opinions. People with dissenting opinions can help clarify an issue. Rather than simply dismissing an opinion as being negative, probe deeper to determine what that person is seeing that you are not.
- Talk to your banker, accountant or consultant. They often have vast experiences that spread across varying industries. It is quite possible that these professionals have insights based on experiences that might prove invaluable when contemplating a big decision.
- Sleep on it. Very few big decisions and directional changes have to be made in haste. Hasty decisions usually lead to giving “a prince from Nigeria” your bank account number so he can deposit his fortune there. Please never confuse haste with agility.
- Listen to your gut. If you are having doubts, listen to your intuition. Those doubts manifest for a reason. Listen to yourself intently to determine what is the cause of the misgivings.
- Use data. Sometimes it can seem counterintuitive when someone says “Listen to your gut AND be data driven.” Your instincts usually start kicking in when something might be going wrong. You can usually make an informed decision by listening to your instincts and then using data to prove or disprove the concern.