I recently read an article from Strategy + Business magazine titled “The Decision-Making Flaw in Powerful People.”
The authors cited several experiments leading to the conclusion that powerful people run a higher risk of making flawed decisions because their power gives them a high confidence in their judgment; thus, they don’t feel a need to seek or listen to advice from others. And in fact, those defined as “powerful” made less accurate judgments than those in the control group or low-power group. In this context, power was defined as an individual’s “capacity to influence others, stemming in part from his or her control over resources, rewards, or punishments.”
I imagine most of us can recall a situation where someone in authority didn’t listen to what we could clearly see as the “right” path because they were so heavily vested in their own ideas. The question I have now is how do those in power temper their confidence to allow for external viewpoints and advice, while at the same time ultimately make decisions? We praise decisiveness in leaders and we also praise the humility required to seek and listen to counsel. It seems that this fine line is a tightrope leaders must walk every day. The closest I have come to an answer is summed up in the article subtitle, “Overflowing with confidence, many leaders turn away from good advice.”
Perhaps the key is to keep confidence in check. I think most leaders would self-evaluate to say they do a good job of this—so is that reality or just their perception fed by being overconfident? This makes my head spin.
I am so curious about your thoughts and ideas. How do leaders balance the humility to ask and listen with the need for decisive and quick action?