Blog from our global partner: by Kris Girrell

Businessmen on Sports FieldWe coaches often draw analogies from the sports world, and this is one of those rich ones – so rich, in fact, that it made it into the Wall Street Journal! The actual football issue – that of making a late-in-the-game 4th and 2 decision to go for it – is not important. But what the authors, Everson and Albergotti, explain is that the uproar over Coach Bill Belichick’s decision seems to be based in a wave of conservatism that has our country – and perhaps our leaders – in its grips.

In business, leaders are faced with decisions that, despite involving unknown and unpredictable outcomes, must be made. All too often, we see leaders making the “safe” decisions instead of the higher risk/higher pay off choices. But as Everson and Albergotti relate, research shows that passive choices result in four times as many mistakes than aggressive ones. So what gives?

What gives is that the perception of pressure in today’s society – to perform, to get it right, and to not make a mistake – is higher than at almost any time in history. The key word here is “perception.” And our perceptions are intensified by the volatility of the market and by the dollar amount affixed to them. However, I wonder if decisions today are any more or less “risky” than previous times.

Perception, I often tell my clients, is entirely inside our heads and entirely personally defined. And deciding is based on the value and meaning placed on our desired outcomes and the perceived value-versus-risk of each alternative course of action. On the basis of deciding, decisions are decisions. Good decisions are not necessarily the ones that net great results. They are the ones made well. Belichick made a good decision and lost. Had he won, those same critics would be praising his genius. The question comes down to one of healthy, aggressive decisiveness. And I wonder if I or you have what it takes to go for it!