People who analyze in-depth tend to perform a thorough examination of facts and details.
The alternative is to act on the gut – relying on initial feelings and views to move forward, and simply follow first impressions.
This is very common among those who suffer from The Success Deception; when you are smart, and successful, and things usually go well, you’re more likely to act on that educated gut reaction because it’s led you so well in the past.
I had a colleague, Diana, who helped me with this by teaching me her rule of thumb: “The third idea is usually the best.”
She arrived at this after a lifetime of going with first reactions herself, and seeing others do it, then applying some patience and mindfulness to get to something better. “Imagine”, she’d say, “if your first idea is great, how much better of an idea you can come up with when you give it some thought.”
She didn’t want to talk things to death, because eventually you reach a point of diminishing returns; the third idea always seemed the sweet spot. You’d have a great approach that seems good on the surface. But then, with some analysis, you find an unintended consequence or two, and revise it. With a little more review and discussion, you come up with the third idea. In general, that seemed the time to act.
Instead of the first impression, just a bit of in-depth analysis can slow us down (in a good way) and bring us to something better.
M Boother Chris Emch speaks about Sam (remember her from last week?) and her analytical skill. “She’s a lawyer by background”, Chris explained, “so she brings our fast-moving team those skill sets: thinking about risk, choosing words carefully, reading carefully. She never acts on a gut impulse. She is always trying to think two steps ahead – not just ‘how could this go wrong’, but ‘where do we want to lead someone?'”
According to Chris, Sam will take the visionary approach — “what does success look like?”– yet boil that down into process-oriented steps. She’s surrounded by fast thinkers – lots of “i’s”, DiSC-wise.
On a recent project helping AmEx promote a credit card line for business owners, the enthusiastic team was thinking mostly about promoting the benefits of the card. But Sam slowed them down (in a good way) by asking “How are we making this look innovative, modern, and aligned with the business owner looking for a card that matches their values and needs. We’ve got to look at it from that point of view.” And that takes more time and effort, but it paid off with a much more effective media strategy.
“Sam does a great job of applying DiSC to situations,” Chris went on, explaining how Sam can be just as analytical about this tool for interpersonal effectiveness. “She looks at the priorities of others and appeals to those priorities, and that makes her leadership effective.”
Chris is a CD, which means he craves challenge and has very high expectations for himself and others. He gives an example: “She makes a point of sending emails to let me know when I’ve done work at a high standard. This keeps me motivated. And, I appreciate that she knows this about me.”
Teams need structure from their leaders. When it’s time to execute, instead of improvising and going with gut reactions, be like Sam: plan, and analyze in-depth.
Analyzing in-depth is a leadership behavior that helps drive Structure during the Execution process of the Work of Leaders.
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This is the sixteenth post in an 18-part series. Throughout the series, I’ll be providing real-world negative examples from a variety of settings.
For positive examples, we’ll look at one specific case study: the Small Business Saturday initiative from American Express. Small Business Saturday has become part of the holiday shopping lexicon (positioned between Black Friday and Cyber Monday) and reminds us to “Shop Small” and keep our dollars local. It’s been tremendously successful and is a huge initiative, but there’s a behind-the-scenes story that lifts up best practices in leadership we can all adopt; not every leader or team member involved is a high-level executive at American Express. In fact, much of the effort was a product of the work of a specific team at M Booth, a mid-sized award winning PR firm. Follow along to learn more. To start at the first post in this series, click here.