Dr. Nick Molinaro, Ed.D., P.C.
CEOs and other top business executives have it tough. We read about their challenges all the time. Sometimes they are called heroes and sometimes goats for taking actions in the face of a possible downside – or for refusing to do so.
Ah, the magic of 20-20 hindsight.
An accountant’s main job consists of narrowly focusing on the specific task in front of them. CEOs, on the other hand, must have the ability to shift awareness to different items perhaps several times a day. They cannot afford to disregard the whole ballfield, so to speak, as they might have to take action at any time.
As a licensed psychologist who works with high-performing athletes and business leaders, I began working with a particularly gifted quarterback when he was just eleven. By the time he was playing in high school, the competition had naturally improved and he was finding himself struggling. I helped him mentally focus on pushing off his back foot when the ball was snapped because that was a skill which was not fully developed yet. The only problem was, his intense concentration on mastering that one area of his total skill set took the bulk of his attention and other areas began to suffer. He focused too narrowly on one concern. He became hesitant to make a pass because he only saw the possible downside. To counter this, I helped him learn to analyze the risk/reward and to realize that any decision could yield either result. The key, I told him, was to accept risks that carried, in his own mind, a roughly 85 percent chance of success.
Savvy business leaders don’t make important decisions on the basis of the possibility of success. They realize that would be reckless. They’re responsible not only for their own reputational and career welfare, but for the livelihood of several or hundreds or many thousands of employees and family members. They know they need more assurance than merely the chance that major decisions might work.
On the other hand, they’d remain frozen in indecision if they vowed to only take actions that they absolutely knew would pay off. None of us know the future, so we can never be assured of not making a mistake. But high-performing business people must concentrate on all factors leading to success and not be afraid to pull the trigger on a decision with about 85 percent assurance.
I test high-level job applicants for client companies. One recent applicant for the position of COO tested low on risk-taking and high on analysis and anxiety. In other words, he tended to avoid making decisions because he spent too much time studying every potential obstacle and ramification and stressing out about it. He was looking for guaranteed success before making his move, and that’s virtually impossible to predict.
Boost your awareness of the situation and study it carefully. See every side. Then make a decision. Don’t fret over the fact that you might be wrong, as long as you’re confident that you’ve given yourself an 85 percent chance of succeeding.
Dr. Nick Molinaro, a licensed psychologist, is working with Wiss & Company to unlock potential and enhance the leadership skills and performance of business clients and their key personnel. If you'd like to contact Dr. Nick, you may reach him at 973.994.9400 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.