What type of leader are you? When it comes to making decisions, there are very specific types of personalities at play.
gyro, in partnership with the FORTUNE Knowledge Group, surveyed over 700 high-level executives from a variety of disciplines across nine industries. A cluster analysis of the survey data exposed three distinct leader profiles.
These executive types take a holistic approach to problem-solving, focusing on future goals and ideals. They don’t override personal feelings in their decision-making, depending instead on a balance between hard and soft factors. Within this group, 87 percent say inspirational considerations, such as company narrative and team spirit, should be equally weighted with hard data, such as speed, cost and efficiency. Eighty-five percent say they prefer to approach a problem “holistically and in context,” and 73 percent say their decisions are guided by “goals, future outcomes or an ideal.”
These types of leaders attack problems in a methodical and practical way, taking into account the immediate implications of a decision, such as how it will affect those around them and how it will be implemented. When they consider soft factors, they do so because those feelings have emerged as a result of their professional knowledge and experience. In this group, 84 percent cite “practical and immediate implications of my decision – how it will affect those around me and how easily it will be implemented” as the most important factor in decision-making. Eighty-two percent say they “like to approach a problem methodically—solving one piece of the puzzle before moving on to the next” —and 47 percent say “it is often necessary and preferable to rely on gut feelings when faced with a deluge of information.”
These leaders believe in suppressing their emotions. They have an eye on future goals and ideals, but they never rely on either intuition or soft factors. While 80 percent of this group say they like to look at a problem “holistically and in context,” an overwhelming majority say “personal feelings are inevitable, but executives should strive to ignore or override them when making decisions.” More than three-quarters say they place the most value on goals, future outcomes or an ideal in guiding their decision-making.
Why do some choose to avoid emotion, especially in a business or professional setting? It is a matter of tired, historical perceptions, says Deborah Nixon, a management professional with the consulting firm DPRA Canada: “In the past, we equated a ‘real’ leader with the strong, silent type. The ideal leader was one who was cool, calm and professional. Emotion was considered to be inappropriate for the business environment. Of course, we now understand that emotion is always present.”
All told, business decision-makers want to feel something positive. While hard facts inform our decisions, we are ultimately influenced by emotion and won over through our hearts, not data.
This is an excerpt from the “Only Human: The Emotional Logic of Business Decisions” white paper from gyro and the FORTUNE Knowledge Group. To download the full report and learn more, click here.