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Marshall Goldsmith

Marshall Goldsmith is a management guru who regularly helps executives improve their leadership skills. He is a professor at Alliant International University, which named its graduate college of business after[…]

Business leaders can avoid rash decision making by backing away and avoiding committing to a position immediately, says Goldsmith.

Goldsmith:  Well, now that’s much more comp. I see that overreacting, too rash in terms of decision making, and again what I suggest people do is that you back away, you don’t commit, you say to people, “Let me think about it,” and then you take at least a little time, calm down, get rid of emotional reactions, think about it objectively from a business perspective, then get back to the other person. Usually, when we overreact it’s the result of an emotional reaction, anger, excitement, something happening, and what happens, and the research on this is clear, our brains work very differently when we’re in this agitated state and the odds on us making impulsive or wrong decisions go way up. So the important thing is put your brain back in the right position before you start making decisions, and by the way it’s fine to have emotional reactions. You just don’t have to talk when you have emotional reactions. Question: What should an executive do if they’ve made a rash decision?

Goldsmith:  Apologize. Just say, “In hindsight I think I made a mistake. This was nobody else’s responsibility but my own.”  I wrote an article called To Help Others Develop, Start with Yourself. The first person any leader needs to work on improving:  This person, themselves. And I’ve got great examples of that. I have great examples of my clients who have sort of publicly talked about here’s what I want to get better at, here’s what I’m doing right, here’s what I need to change. They’ve apologized for the mistakes. They have involved people and helped people get- involved people and people helped them get better. They’ve given the credit to the other people. This goes a long way in terms of personal credibility.