I was always told never to listen to gossip and for the most part I don’t (although, once in a while, it can be entertaining)!  However, recently I discovered that the best decision makers are those that imagine what gossip might be said behind their backs about their decision before they take it. How does it work?

You may be forgiven for thinking that the best decisions are made when all the evidence is weighed up and a cool sense of logic is applied, this may be true but the gossip ingredient is apparently very important and can be proven, statistically, to make a real difference.

The problem with most solo decision taking is that it is very subjective, we only see the effect and logic of our decision from our own point of view and even if we consider others we usually only do so in terms of impact. However gossip is not so much focused on the content of the decision but what people think of the decision maker and how and why they made the decision. In fact considering what gossip might be spread, allows us to imagine how others will not only think about our decision but also us; our authority, frame of mind, motives etc.

I regularly preach that the best change managers are those that take the time to anticipate what other people are thinking and how they are likely to react, well in decision making one also needs to consider what people are thinking about you the decision maker. But why is this and how can it allow us to make better decisions?

Firstly it gives us a better understanding of the likely emotional impact of our decision. Secondly, it helps us estimate the likelihood of people respecting us and therefore, in part, the decision itself. Thirdly, it allows us the possibility to prepare relevant arguments to defend the decision from their point of view.  And fourthly, it enables us to adjust or even re-consider the decision, or its timing, before it is even made.  In leadership, timing is everything.  

Considering gossip does not mean that our decisions need to be watered down, nor does it mean that we should only decide for what the stakeholders want, but it does mean that at least we consider our decisions very carefully and especially how we are seen by others in the process. For if we are not respected then, most likely, our decision will not be either.

It’s worth considering and it is statistically proven!

Have a good week

Harley