Developing Self-Awareness to Enable Great Judgement
The average expert is “not much better at predicting the future than a dart-throwing chimpanzee”. That’s the provocative conclusion of Professor Philip Tetlock after he had conducted the largest study ever into the accuracy of expert predictions. Many of the experts involved did worse than if they had made random guesses! Given that decisions always relate to the future, and almost always rely on an assessment of what will happen next, this is a huge issue for every leader.
Unfortunately, this issue is barely recognised, for three primary reasons: there’s a widespread misconception that our ideas and opinions are the result of years of rational, objective analysis, which leads to the false comfort that they are robust; we have considerable discomfort with uncertainty; and we to dislike discovering ourselves to be wrong. Consequently, leaders routinely rely on predictions when making decisions without recognising the likelihood this will introduce errors. To make it worse, the probability and magnitude of errors becomes ever greater as complexity increases.
Solving this problem requires that we change our relationship with uncertainty. Research in leadership and psychology has identified one underlying, learned ability, or ‘meta-ability’, that can play an important role enabling this shift and also lead to improvements in many other capabilities: self-awareness. It underpins our ability to regulate our own emotions, our capacity for thoughtful inquiry, our openness to new ideas and how well we are able to appreciate and understand others. As such, developing self-awareness is an automatic enabler to more reliable, considered, flexible and adaptive decision making.
This workshop examines the changes in self-awareness that take place as the mind becomes more cognitively advanced, giving a clear route-map by which it may be developed. Armed with this understanding, participants will be equipped to transform this critical faculty, enabling them to significantly improve their decision making. They will:
- Understand the critical importance of humility, why it can’t be faked, and how more of it can be developed:
- A true sense of one’s own skills and character can only arise from humility – ego is a barrier.
- In particular, effective decision making requires intellectual humility.
- Be able to reduce reactivity and increase responsiveness, particularly under stress, and be equipped with some simple techniques to empower this change.
- Know where to focus in order to profoundly change their relationship with uncertainty, such that they can remain objective and effective in volatile, fast-paced and unpredictable environments.
- Understand why self-awareness is inseparably linked to performance via both their own creativity and adaptability, and also their ability to develop others.
- Know how to mimic the defining characteristic of the small group of experts that are much better than average at predicting the future.
- Be armed with the most effective way to improve their ability to handle complexity and ambiguity.
Updated January 2019.