Whether you’re the CEO or the janitor, you make executive decisions every day. So, exactly what is an executive decision? It’s nothing more than a decision made by one individual in behalf of others.
So let’s say you’re the designated shopper for your household. Before you buy laundry detergent, do you call every member of your household and ask what type of detergent you should buy? Probably not. You most likely buy the detergent that you like best — perhaps the same one your mother used — or the one that’s least expensive because you’re trying to save money. Whatever you choose, you just made an executive decision.
Maybe you’re the CEO of a large organization. Your authority includes a vast array of responsibilities that require your executive decision — that decision you make in behalf of others — about how to create more revenue, how to spend the organization’s money, and when, where, and how to hire the people who will drive the company’s values and manage the organization’s resources.
So, now, got it, right? You decide for others. Now, the next question is, do you make your executive decisions on the basis of rational logic, or on the basis of intuition?
Do you use your expertise or your feelings? The best executive decisions are made using both. For example, if you’re buying laundry detergent, your expertise may automatically direct you to the product you’re interested in, allowing you to choose which one will provide the most value — get the cleanest clothes at the lowest price. If you’re using your feelings, or your intuition, you may be drawn to the detergent with the highest environmental ratings that has the least harmful products for your skin, or the skin of your most sensitive family member. Your “gut” says this is the right product to buy.
If you’re the CEO trying to decide whether to budget for greater spending in 2013 to increase sales than you did in 2012, your rational, logical decision may be to hold or even decrease spending, based on what the current state of the economy is. Or, your gut may suggest that 2013 is actually going to be a year when the economy starts a full swing uphill on recovery, and your organization can benefit from increased spending to be ahead of the curve, the decision you make will be based on your intuition.
There is, however, another way you can make executive decisions, and that is with an integrated approach, using both rational logic and intuition. While there is still resistance in our western culture to the inclusion of intuition in executive decisions at the CEO level or higher organizational management and above, there is growing support and proof that the best executive decisions of all kinds combine both logic and intuition.
Intuition relies on an innate sense of the most likely outcome from the decision made, yet often would not be logically or rationally supported. Logic, on the other hand, does not always lead to the best overall decisions, as it cannot factor in such things as public mood, or perceptions of probability.
So whether it’s laundry detergent or hiring 20 more sales representatives in anticipation of a recovering economy and jumping sales, the best thing you can do is listen with your head, and feel with your gut. Using both skill sets, you’ll make better decisions.