Not too long ago the partners at Oak & Apple met to review client status. As we started the discussion, Bill, a scratch golfer, commented that in a recent tournament he hadn’t been able to settle down and play his game. Bill’s not alone: think of all the professional golfers who can’t win a major because the events are fraught with high stress. That led to an epiphany: even well-trained people think and behave differently under high stress compared to normal times.
In tracing how client decisions were made, we concluded that top executives revert to blinking; that is relying on past decisions that got them or their companies out of trouble. We have found that more favorable outcomes occur, in both turnaround and rapidly expanding environments, when chief executives are effective in collecting the right information about a situation, collaborating with members of their teams and advisors, challenging assumptions that drove previous major decisions, and expanding the number of options to consider in addressing a challenge.
These observations led us to develop a useful (and free) executive self-evaluation guide “Decision Making in The High-Stress Environment“. Executives tell us that, in the roughly fifteen minutes it takes to complete the guide, they gain insights into their behavior as leaders. The guide looks at both financial and other metrics used to measure performance – operational issues from how budgets are established and tracked, to leadership styles relied on generally or under rapidly evolving situations.
In addition to the critical tactical aspects of leading and managing businesses in fast-paced, changing times, the guide asks executives to reflect on strategic elements such as vision, mission and brand. Some company presidents ask their management teams to complete the guide separately and use the tool to run a reality check on how management performance is perceived, and then initiate efforts to address those management areas where there is the greatest disagreement.
Please let us know how you use insights gained from completing the guide. We are available to talk by phone or in person about your findings as well. Oh, and yes, Bill regained his golf stroke after working on the Decision Making Guide.