PMP338: How Do You Know if You’re Making the Right Decision? – with Jen Schwanke and Will Parker

In this week’s episode, Dr. Jen Schwanke and William D. Parker delve into the complexities of decision-making, particularly in leadership roles. Both share insights and strategies to navigate the often murky waters of making the “right” decisions.

Continuous Learning and Humility

Will emphasizes the importance of humility in leadership, advocating for a mindset of constant inquiry and openness to learning. He suggests that asking questions is a fundamental way to deepen understanding and make informed decisions.

Collaboration Over Isolation

Jen warns against the pitfalls of isolation, stressing the value of collaboration and external perspectives. She champions the idea of thinking things through collectively and soliciting feedback by asking others to assume different roles (e.g., parent, teacher) to gain diverse insights.

Confidence and Communication

Both Jen and Will discuss the balance between humility and confidence. They touch upon the necessity of presenting decisions confidently and communicating them effectively, tying back to the organization’s mission and vision to ensure alignment and coherence.

Coaching and Professional Development

Jen references Atul Gawande’s article “Personal Best,” and Will references Michael Bungay Stanier’s book “The Coaching Habit” to highlight the importance of seeking coaching and professional development. These approaches help leaders refine their skills and decision-making precision.

Strategic Questioning

Will also reviews Michael Bungay Stanier’s seven coaching questions, which serve as a powerful framework for introspection and guidance. These questions range from identifying the core issue to considering the implications of decisions and learning from the process.

Avoiding Binary Choices

Jen and Will advise against reducing decisions to simple binaries, encouraging leaders to explore multiple options and perspectives. This approach facilitates more nuanced and effective decision-making.

Pausing and Reflecting

They advocate for giving oneself space to reflect on decisions, suggesting that not all decisions need to be made immediately. Pausing and even sleeping on decisions can lead to better outcomes.

Accepting Imperfection

Acknowledging the human element in leadership, Jen and Will remind listeners that no decision is perfect. They encourage leaders to accept their limitations, learn from their choices, and extend grace to themselves.

Moving Forward

Once a decision is made, the focus should shift to implementation and addressing subsequent priorities. This mindset helps leaders avoid dwelling on past decisions and maintains momentum towards achieving organizational goals.

Let’s Wrap This Up

This week’s conversation offers valuable lessons on the art and science of decision-making. By blending humility with confidence, seeking growth opportunities, engaging in strategic questioning, and embracing the complexity of leadership decisions, leaders can navigate their roles more effectively. 

Listen to the entire episode for even more takeaways, or reach out to or to schedule a time to reflect on your own decision-making.

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William D. Parker
William D. Parker
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