Leaders Can Always Make a Bad Decision Worse
We often compound mistakes by following them with disastrous choices.
Decision-makers who follow a bad decision with an equally bad choice — or worse — usually do so for one of two reasons. They are distracted by the earlier misstep and are not thinking clearly, or they are attempting to recover by making a risky move that will likely end up in disaster.
Ask a professional golfer what a bogey is, and they will calmly explain it is a score of one over par on a given hole. But ask the same professional what a double bogey is and they will smile and shake their head. In the words of legendary professional golfer Tom Kite, “A double bogey is a bad shot followed by a stupid shot.”
Making a bad decision on occasion is inevitable. Compounding a bad decision by following it with an idiotic choice reflects a lack of discipline.
The first thing to do after making a painfully wrong decision is to stay vigilant. Swinging for the fences or taking risks to recover is almost always a bad choice. Regaining the composure to make a quality decision is essential. The main problem is our need to recover.
When leaders or decision-makers make a mistake, especially one that is seen as a bad decision by others, they feel a need to redeem themselves. They put all of their energy into the next decision, often in an attempt to regain the credibility or advantage that has already been squandered. Of course, we know how that is likely to turn out. Double bogey!
The best leaders know this all too well and maintain the discipline to slow down, take a deep breath, and focus on making a quality follow-up decision that does not compound the problem. Just knowing the tendency we all have to take unnecessary risks after a poor decision can help immensely.
Holding the standard that the next decision must not compound the problem will usually prevent a calamity. As professional golfers will advise you: Take your medicine (bogey) and move on to the next hole. Professionals shouldn’t make stupid shots.