Smiles Are A Telltale Sign

As leaders, when everyone is nodding their heads in full agreement, we must not allow our egos to think we are so brilliant that everyone is on our side.

We make mistakes every single day. We are not immune or exempt from feeling stupid for a poor choice we’ve made. The key is to always learn from our mistakes and those of others. We must do this without ridiculing them but instead examining how and why their decision proved costly. 

The above video is of Ryan Pace, the general manager of the Chicago Bears, talking to his coaches, executives, and scouts before they selected quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. We are not making fun of Pace or Trubisky, but are instead using this video to help us learn. Pace is holding a report that indicates every single member of the Bears had Trubisky as their No. 1 prospect. Pace had a smile from ear to ear, sharing the information that he felt confirmed complete unity in their evaluation.

But is that what we want when we make a decision? Do we want a room full of smiles? When has groupthink ever been something we must have?  

Pace is making this decision with complete support and euphoria, but we know nothing can ever be 100 percent certain. As former 49ers Head Coach Bill Walsh once said, “When everyone is thinking alike, then no one is thinking.”

Many leaders think their job is to create unanimity when, in fact, their sole role is to make the best possible decision at that moment. There is an old saying, “No one ever dedicated a monument to a committee.” Leadership at decision-making time has to be about creating an atmosphere that allows people from varying views to share information that ultimately stimulates new ideas. The smiles as the Bears get ready to make the selection indicate happiness; yet, we should know it’s impossible to create complete satisfaction. 

As leaders, when everyone is nodding their heads in full agreement, we must not allow our egos to think we are so brilliant that everyone is on our side. Instead, we need to find someone willing to challenge our idea. Charlie Munger of Berkshire Hathaway says, “The ability to destroy your ideas rapidly instead of slowly when the occasion is right is one of the most valuable things. You have to work hard on it. Ask yourself what are the arguments on the other side. It’s bad to have an opinion you’re proud of if you can’t state the arguments for the other side better than your opponents. This is a great mental discipline.”

From now on, when we make a decision, and everyone is smiling, let’s turn around, go back to our desk, then spend the next two days looking for a better answer.

P.S. If you are in search of a book recommendation, our team at The Daily Coach highly recommends Coach Wooden and Me: Our 50-Year Friendship On and Off the Court by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. This book is a stirring tribute to the subtle but profound influence that Wooden had on Kareem as a player, and then as a person. Abdul-Jabbar fondly recalls how Coach Wooden's fatherly guidance not only paved the way for his unmatched professional success but also made possible a lifetime of personal fulfillment.

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