Social & Emotional Intelligence: The Key to Optimizing Decision-Making

Article Contributed by Guest Author Gloria Zamora

Fact based management has proven to be a very beneficial tool to arriving at sound decisions.  Overwhelmingly, data and logic are the main currency of business.  To ignore the facts is to refuse to face reality and learn from past successes and failures.  At the same time, sales professionals know that every decision has some element of emotion.

So how does social and emotional intelligence complement left brain logical decision-making?

David J. Snowden and Mary E. Boone in their Harvard Business Review article, “A Leader’s Framework for Decision Making,” postulate that there are simple decisions that have clear cause and effect relationships, as well as complicated decisions that have discoverable but not immediately apparent answers.  These types of problems in what they call a fairly ordered world lend themselves to linear, logical, sequential thought processes to arrive at the right answer.

On the other hand, complex problems have many competing ideas, unpredictability and unknown unknowns.  These conundrums in a more unordered world are best solved with pattern-based assessments.  Creative solutions can be buried in linear thinking.  Social and emotional intelligence and big picture thinking to connect the dots are required to arrive at the best outcome.

Without right brain thinking, which Daniel Pink would call a “Symphony aptitude”, emerging patterns would be missed.  Understanding group dynamics and the unspoken language of other players in the equation provides invaluable insights into the many factors impacting the circumstances.  What is being conveyed, yet not being openly discussed? Those oblivious to social awareness cues are at a distinct disadvantage.

At the same time, not understanding our own and others’ emotions can lead to perilous endings.  Warren Buffett talks about his $200 billion blunder that he made when he was 34 years old.   When he invested in Berkshire Hathaway, a textile company, he felt he had been misled by Seabury Stanton, the CEO.  Buffett was upset about the unfair dealings he had experienced, so he proceeded to buy majority control of the company and  then fired the CEO.  Unfortunately, his sweet revenge was ill fated.  Berkshire Hathaway had been a poor investment.  He recognizes now that to “seek revenge at any cost” can cost you dearly.  He estimates that had he invested in the insurance industry, his company would have been worth almost twice as much today.  Allowing negative emotions to cloud your judgment will never result in optimum solutions.

That is the lesson of Social and Emotional intelligence.

Have you found a correlation between the complexity of a problem and the heightened need for social and emotional intelligent right brain thinking?

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