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Is Emotional Decision Making Rational?

Decision-making is a critical skill vital to anyone holding or seeking a leadership position. One decision could end your career or propel you to the top of your industry. As a consultant, I have on more than one occasion, heard the distraught thoughts of a client who made a decision in the throes of an emotional upheaval and went on to deal with the consequences. While our emotions have the ability to spark creativity and enrich our business, they can also have dramatic consequences if left unattended. In fact, they can prevent us from gaining clarity over what is going on in our lives and leave us wondering what went wrong. Emotional decision making hinders our logic and holds us back from reaching our goals. If you are a leader, you can expect to run the gamut of emotions. The trick is to recognize which ones will help you, and which ones will destroy you.

Many of the leaders I’ve had the opportunity to coach, point out that the following areas of business are the most susceptible to emotional decision making. See if you can relate.

Handling clashes and conflicts between employees. Managing conflict is difficult. Whether you are in charge of hundreds of employees or just a handful, conflict will inevitably arise. Keeping people happy while managing your own emotions is not easy. To avoid overreacting in any situation, develop a strategy that keeps the temperature down. Consider waiting at least 24 hours to respond to an emotional request or a confrontational message. Gather more information before you make any decision regarding your response, or before you decide how you will handle the situation.

Responding to under-achievers. Just because you have the ability to fire individuals who are less than stellar members of your team, doesn’t mean you should. When frustration and anger start rearing their ugly heads, put your leadership role first and your emotions second. Avoid passive-aggressiveness like the plague, and take a proactive approach to your leadership role. Focus on the person and their weaknesses, rather than on your ability to lead or your company. This puts you in a better position to decide whether that person makes the cut for the team.

In career changing decisions. If you are tired of your boss, and are ready to move on, resist the urge to walk out. I have worked with countless leaders who have made the mistake of leaving their job on a whim, only to regret it later. If you really cannot continue working at your current job, take steps during your time off to build your resume and develop a plan for changing jobs. Once you secure a better position, notify your boss and make an un-emotional decision. When you leave emotions at the door, opportunities increase dramatically.

As a leader, where else do you notice emotions taking over, and how do they affect your decisions?

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