Improve your decision-making skills: time to get back to the gym!

Something I struggled with for a long time is chronic neck and shoulder pain when working with my computer. For the largest part of my life, I sat behind my computer like the hunchback of Notre Dame.

Well meant ergonomic advice, a standing desk, and using the mouse with my left hand only gave temporary relief.

The only thing that solves the problem structurally is going to the gym.

The problem is that I experienced being in the gym as exciting as watching grass grow. Besides, I always took the words of the apostle Paul “For bodily exercise profiteth little” (1 Tim 4:8) perhaps a little too close to heart. 

If getting back in shape is part of your past summer holiday intentions – here are three things that got me back in the gym earlier this year!

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Three design principles for Leadership Development

In the last three decades, the business world has become more complex than ever before. This complexity is mainly driven by two factors:

  • Globalization – Never before in the history of mankind have materials, capital and people moved faster and more freely across our planet
  • Technology – The amount of data we have at our disposal for decision making is dramatically increasing each year

As a result, our world has become more interconnected and interdependent than ever. A case in point are the supply chain issues businesses experienced in the initial stage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This interconnectedness and interdependence has huge implications for the way organizations need to operate, both externally as well as internally.

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Why leadership has become more difficult and why this matters

I spent a significant part of my working life developing leaders in organizations. What strikes me is that during COVID-19 the demand for this type of work has not decreased; if anything, the demand for leadership development has increased. That is remarkable. During the financial crisis in 2007-2008, for instance, most companies tried to save money, and one of the first things they considered was decreasing the out-of-pocket costs associated with these, and other kind of developmental activities.

Recently I was asked why companies continue to invest in the quality of their leadership at all levels of the organizations, despite the economic uncertainty they are facing.

In my opinion, the reason is that companies have come to realize the growing importance of the quality of leadership at all levels of the organization. I believe that this is a good thing, especially because leadership roles have become more demanding in the last couple of decades, not only for senior leaders, but also for first, and second-level leaders in organizations. 

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Decision making for a new Decade

Every year millions of people around the world make New Year’s resolutions. Given that we are currently starting the 2020’s, we have the exciting opportunity to make resolutions for a whole new decade!

I decided to make mine around decision making. The reason for this was the fact that I had the opportunity to read ‘Unlocking Leadership Mindtraps – How to thrive in complexity’ by Jennifer Garvey Berger during the Christmas vacation.

One of the key notions in this book is that the world has become much more interconnected and therefore more complex. Unfortunately, our decision-making skills are ‘brilliantly designed – for an older, less connected, and more predictable version of the world’. In this context, Jennifer Garvey Berger mentions five mind traps we can find ourselves in, one of them being trapped in ‘Simple stories.

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Adopting a growth mindset requires critical self-reflection from leaders

HC Gage Skidmore

Critical self-reflection is difficult to acquire, but extremely important for leaders

By Dirk Verburg

For several reasons I love reading autobiographies of leaders in business and politics. The first reason is plain curiosity: the possibility to take a look behind the stage of well-known events. The second reason is because these autobiographies provide a unique opportunity to understand decision making processes from the perspective of the decision makers. Why did they take certain decisions in specific situations? Were they aware of certain developments? From whom did they obtain advice? What was the role of important stakeholders? etc. Continue reading