10 Ways to Assess Reality Correctly as a Leader

About an hour before this post was written, President Trump suggested that news media outlets (with the exception of Fox) should compete for a Fake News Trophy. With the President’s daily dose of doubts about the veracity of news media, coupled with algorithmsthat determine what news spreads, and even the capability to create digital doppelgangers of politicians and celebrities, confidence in our ability to assess reality correctly has never been more shaken.

Yet, long before the 21st century, leaders have struggled with their ability to assess reality correctly. In his book, Tribes, Seth Godin explains that, for centuries, “[Kings have] traditionally surrounded themselves with a well-fed and well-paid court of supplicants, each of whom has a vested interest in keeping things as they are.” Today’s leaders don’t need supplicants, they need counselors. 

Here are ten suggestions for how to assess reality correctly when you’re the leader:

1. Seek counsel from those who are directly involved with the presenting problem.

2. Seek counsel from those who have presented past decisions correctly.

3. Seek counsel from those who have nothing to gain personally from the decision.

4. Seek counsel from those who desire a balance between profit, people, and planet.

5. Seek counsel from those who respond and not react to the problem.

6. Gather as much information as possible from a wide variety of resources.

7. Ask yourself if the people who offer advice are giving you the pros and cons of the decision, or if they are minimizing the pros and cons.

8. Seek what is morally good in the decision process:

a. Look for the objective good

b. Look for the primary intention of doing the good

c. Does the decision benefit all the key stakeholders? 

9. Determine if the decision calls for a command decision, consultation decision, or a consensus decision to be successful in seeking reality.

10. Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in the tyranny of the urgent. Pause and think through the unintended consequences of the decision.

Your team is looking to you as a model for assessing reality correctly. Practice getting counsel, rather than information, and focus on decision quality, rather than quantity.

Question: What are you doing to make sure your decisions are based in reality?