I listen to chatter over the airwaves. Talkshow host Armstrong William leads a merry discussion on South Carolina’s Governor Mark Sanford. Armstrong cannot contain himself: “How does Governor Sanford get rid of his Love Jones?” It was a question that was not easily answered. Listeners from South Carolina appeared irritated with this line of questioning.
Many felt the governor had abandoned his wife, children, and the people of South Carolina. On June 24th, Governor Sanford arranged a press conference where he confessed a year-long affair with an Argentine woman. He was missing for more than six days from his office.
At his press conference, political pundits argued Governor Sanford was attempting to save his job, not his family life. He was married and had four sons. Instead of a low-profile strategy, Governor Sanford actively engaged the media, describing his mistress as his “soul mate.” Clearly, he had lost his mind! His wife Jenny stated, “I believe enduring love is primarily a commitment and an act of will, and for a marriage to be successful, that commitment must be reciprocal.”
Unfortunately, Sanford’s decision ruined his political career, strategic alliances, and the trust of the people of South Carolina. Yet, his personal loss was perhaps greater. He lost his marriage and the trust of his children. Therefore, some decision making carries long-term consequences for individuals and organizations.
Have you ever wondered why some people continue to make bad decisions? You see million-dollar celebrities doing it. You can see this action in government officials and business leaders. There are no discriminators. From the very rich to the poorest of the poor, we see people caught in a vicious cycle of bad decision making. Sadly, we can see it much closer than that. We witness relatives making bad decisions. Despite wise counsel, some people continue to make poor decisions.
The Decision Process
Decision making can make or break an organization. Joan Liebler and Charles McConnell, authors of Management Principles for Health Professionals, maintain that decision making is an essential element of management activities at all organizational levels. Gareth Jones and Jennifer George, authors of Contemporary Management, further argue that managers must respond to opportunities and threats. In fact, decision making is a process where individuals analyze and make determinations regarding a problem that is keeping with the organization’s goals and objectives.
Unfortunately, some people feel the decision making process is a solo operation. Some managers can be caught in this trap and disregard the expertise of their workers. Through series after series of bad decisions, the manager may continue on a merry ride of worsening consequences. Two things generally can stop this dead-end trap. The organization stops him or the organization tanks.
In going through a series of bad decisions, a wise person should gain insight. Unfortunately, some individuals who are in charge will learn nothing, thereby earning the label of a foolish manager. Every person, regardless of their background or social standing, can benefit from good decision-making techniques.
The Path Forward
Making the right decision is a difficult process. Like Governor Sanford, many managers don’t take enough time to evaluate short-term decisions for long-term consequences. No one will usually applaud your many good decisions; however, you will probably catch heat over the bad ones.
Les Brown, author of How to Become the Person You Always Wanted to Be-No Matter What the Obstacle, explains, “Your values are not set by government or church leaders. Your values give you consistency in the way you approach life…By holding to your beliefs, you can always stay on track toward your dreams.” Therefore, making good decisions goes to the heart of being an effective manager.
How do managers overcome the barriers of making bad decisions during uncertainty? Is it possible for a manager to involve their workers in critical decisions without giving up any authority?
© 2010 by Daryl D. Green