Profitable Decision Making

By: Sandy Gluckman PhD.
Author of ‘Who’s in the Driver’s Seat; Using Spirit to Lead Successfully’
The ability to make and execute profitable decisions, in a consistent and aligned fashion, is the basis of sustainable growth. Leaders at all levels are accountable for making decisions, large and small, strategic and tactical. Collectively, these decisions will move the company forward, keep it in neutral or move it backwards. The trick is to get leaders, throughout the organization, to make financially profitable and strategically aligned decisions from boardroom to backroom, keeping the company moving in the agreed strategic direction.
A profitable decision is defined as a decision that is made in an efficient manner; that involves vigorous dialogue; that includes a wide diversity of input and perspective; that is strategically focused ; that is based on fundamentally different thinking and that leads to significant revenue enhancement. In this sense the term ‘profitable,’ as applied to decisions, refers to the return on investment on time, talent, strategy and intelligence– as well as financial outcomes.
When the non-productive behaviors of ego are built into the leadership style and culture of an organization there is a significantly increased probability that decision-makers, at all levels in the organization, will make mediocre and misaligned decisions that are non-profitable and that do not move the organization forward or, even worse, poor decisions that cost the company money.
In their extensive study on the impact of ego on making good financial decisions, Roy Baumeister and Liquing Zhang concluded that when ego is involved, people make ‘less optimal decisions as judged from the standpoint of financial outcomes.’ After two decades of research with hundreds of organizations Dr. Paul Nutt of Ohio State University discovered over one-third of all failed business decisions are driven by ego.
To make vision-directed, strategically-focused, revenue-enhancing decisions requires that the decision makers have the integrity and strength of character to lay personal agendas aside and put the company’s goals first. If we are ego driven, this is unlikely to happen. Since the central purpose of ego is to protect us and take care of ‘me, my and I’, it is difficult, if not impossible to lay personal agendas aside, when the ego is in the driver’s seat. The result is that ego-driven decision-makers tend to make defensive, short-term, self-serving, and strategically inappropriate decisions, regardless of whether it’s right or wrong for the company, profitable or not.
Decision-Making with Ego as the Driver and the Spirited Self as the Passenger
Think of all the meetings in which people are afraid to challenge the status quo, in which there is low participation, low ownership and accountability, little enthusiasm and energy, lip service,, thinking in linear terms, accepting the assumptions of old standards, no creativity and passing the buck. Count the hours of these meetings per month, include how many people on average attend a meeting, take an average salary, and calculate the cost of a lack of spirit. Multiply this across the organization and the cost becomes frightening.
Teams that are ‘sweating the ego stuff’ see the world as limited, polarized and threatening; they use black and white, either-or, right-or-wrong type of thinking. For them decision-making is about someone winning and someone losing, which excludes the possibility of integrative, holistic solutions where several parties can win.
Spirited Economics™ is the art of making decisions with the spirited self as the driver and ego as the passenger
Spirited Economics ™ is about knowing how to use the spirit of the people as a measurable asset in decision-making. This is a dynamic and more profitable alternative to ego. Being ‘spirited’ refers to any behavior or communication that demonstrates:
  • Authenticity.
  • Being boldly in integrity with who we really are, what we think, believe, want, know and perceive.
  • Combining all of the above with humility.

In spirited meetings the team members are not intellectually superior nor do they have higher education or greater experience – they do have the ability to take ego out of the equation. This frees them to challenge themselves, each other, their perceptions, assumptions, behaviors, and intentions. Their dialogue is fast and furious, honest and confronting. The energy is high. This kind of spirited debate and the courageous, authentic interaction between them frees them to use their intelligence to look beyond themselves and scan the horizon for new possibilities. Spirited teams look for what others in their market cannot see, which then leads them to make innovative and profitable solutions, based on that broader vision.

How do they do it?

They Create a Culture of Spirited Economics™

Instead of spending many thousands of dollars fixing the huge range of symptoms that our egos create, let’s go back and fix the problem where it starts – by teaching leaders and their teams how to use spirit as a business asset and shift the ego in the passenger seat.

Without this fundamental, foundation step, teaching any kind of skill will be like attempting to ‘attach wings to caterpillars.’ The metamorphosis must first take place and the great leader will emerge.

The Missing Link

I highly recommend that when an organization invests in leadership development programs, or team building initiatives, they first undertake a fundamental transformative initiative:

  1. Educate the team/organization about Spirited Economics™ and the liability of ego.
  2. Assess the Spirit-Ego Profile of the (and each individual). This will identify the specific behaviors and ways of communicating that are a barrier to success.
  3. Measure the current financial implications of this profile. Choose a measurement of success delivered by agreed changes in behaviors and communication.
  4. Teach the team the principles of Who’s in the Driver’s Seat: Using Spirit to Lead Successfully; Coach the team:
  • To strengthen their spirited behavior and communication skills.
  • To minimize the ego behavior and communication.
  • To apply the process for profitable decision-making.

Spirited skills are easy to learn. The tough part is having the personal courage, self-confidence and humility to openly face the topic of ego and spirit as a leadership imperative with major economic implications. Ego is not a bad thing as long as we recognize how it shows up for us, when it shows up for us and how to keep it in check by replacing it with spirit. In fact just the act of being aware of our own egos automatically strengthens our spirited self.

I would recommend that we all re-think our embarrassment and discomfort in owning our ego behaviors and language so that we can enjoy our true genius and offer this to building an organization that has the capacity to successfully rise above the challenges it faces.

For a complete list of Dr. Gluckman’s keynote topics, training programs and other offerings, please contact us at:

Phone: (972) 758-1246, Fax: (972) 758-7837

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