As leaders, we like being decisive and making quick decisions. We know our businesses well and are willing to act. Doing so without true contrarian input can be dangerous though.
You can make better decisions though simply by identifying and relying on your own personal Mr. Spock. Yes, I’ve been watching movies again and as usual, I can’t help but draw a leadership perspective from them.
In Star Trek (the new version – which was awesome) Captain Kirk is decisive yet impetuous. He takes on huge risks and acts on emotion. Many times he’s right. He has a good gut feeling and intuition. He knows his team and his organization’s capabilities. He’s a great tactician. But it’s easy to see how his snap decisions could lead to disaster.
Mr. Spock on the other hand is brutally logical and dispassionate. He is stylistically diametrically opposed to Captain Kirk. Needless to say the two of them go at each others’ throats (both figuratively and literally when Spock snaps and chokes out Kirk).
As a team, however, the two of them make better decisions. As conflict-laden and dysfunctionally painful as their relationship is at times, it works.
All of us would do well as leaders to find our own Mr. Spock. Here’s what I mean…
At one point in my career I had my own Mr. Spock. I was young, impetuous, and action-oriented. My bias was to make decisions, act on them, and see what happened. Sometimes those weren’t the best decisions and things kind of blew up on me (I know… hard to believe, right? ;). During those blow-ups I had my team in crisis damage control mode. We would clean things up, learn from them and move on with life.
One day, my Mr. Spock showed up – uninvited might I add. He was even-keeled. He asked difficult questions. He wanted me to articulate the logic and reason behind the decisions I wanted to make. He was a complete pain in my behind.
I avoided Spock at all costs. I made decisions without involving him. I didn’t invite him to meetings where we discussed upcoming decisions. I was an immature idiot in how I related to him.
Spock, being a driven little Vulcan, often found out about upcoming decisions and in his unemotional way invited himself to participate in the decision making process. He asked great questions. He pointed out logical flaws. He made my life difficult, slower, yet oddly more insightful.
Spock’s involvement in the decision making process helped the team avoid some errors and in one case prevented a pretty good sized crisis. He made us sharper and smarter. Over time I came to respect and seek out his input when I understood the value he added to the process. No, I didn’t thoroughly enjoy it but involving him was like Brussels sprouts – distasteful but good for you.
So who is your Mr. Spock? Who is that person that makes you consider other alternatives? Who is the person you avoid because they ask difficult questions and force you to think through your decisions more thoroughly? Sure, they slow you down but sometimes they’re the only obstacle between you and the Romulan warship you’re flying into range of.
Identify the person who can be your Spock. Have an up-front conversation with them about your style and their style. Let Spock know how you would like to involve him/her in your decision making process. Be sure to agree to disagree at times and try to clarify who makes what decisions and who has the authority to make which calls.
As painful as you might find it, you might learn a thing or two. You will likely make better decisions. Sure things might be slower but wouldn’t you rather take a little more time to increase your chances of success than rapidly flying into a Klingon ambush?
Find your Mr. Spock. He’ll help you be a better leader because good leaders listen. Good leaders make informed decisions. Good leaders utilize all available resources on their teams. Good leaders are open to input and productive dissent. You owe it to your team and your organization to endure the pain of dealing with Mr. Spock because in the end, it’s better for everyone involved – including you.