Your head or your heart? Where are you inclined to make your decisions from? For myself, I’m inclined to follow my heart, even when it’s not particularly reasonable to do so. Knowing that about myself encourages me to slow down and let my head bring some hard, cold reality into the thought process before jumping into an action. As a result, I’m not always a very speedy decision-maker, especially when my head and my heart are at war on two sides of an issue.
Finally, however, I have to commit to a direction, and more often than not, it’s my heart that guides me. When I consider decisions I have made in the past, I realize that I’m more likely to regret those made using only my head than those made using my heart.
Part of what steers us in one direction or another when we are considering our actions is our basic personality make-up. Some folks are more analytical and logic-driven just by their inherent nature, while others are more influenced by emotion and by how their actions are going to impact their lives and the lives of others. Some of us lead from the head, and some of us lead from the heart. I’m in no way implying that one way or the other is better. We need both types of people in this world, to be sure.
At the company where I worked before I retired, we were fortunate to be led by a group of remarkable people. They held regular corporate staff meetings to discuss the future direction of the company and to consider actions that needed to be taken. Their leadership had allowed the company to thrive, to achieve great success, and to be very highly regarded in our industry. Now the company was faced with the challenge of redefining itself in the face of its success. How should we proceed in the transition from a small company to a medium-sized one? How fast should we grow? Should we expand product line, or open branches in new cities? How should we chart our direction in the face of changing technology within our industry? What should the company look like in five or ten years? With the encouragement of our leadership, the company jumped into one direction that proved to be not the best fit. We quickly adjusted, and moved in a new direction. Again, it appeared that we moved too quickly, and adjustments had to be made. There was disagreement among our leadership concerning our future. Employee morale was being affected. It was a challenging time for our company.
About this time, the company decided to implement a personality profile instrument to aid in our understanding of each other, our customers, and our future employees. We selected a product based on the DiSC personality profile system. There are other, equally valid personality profiling instruments available, but this one worked particularly well for us. A couple of us received certification in administering the system, and how to train using it. We developed a communication and leadership program, with the intention of gradually providing everyone in the company with the training. The first people we took through our new class were our corporate staff. Their personality profiles showed that they all – yes, every single one of them—shared the same personality style. This means that they all processed facts and made decisions in the same way.
All of these people were dominant personality types, driven to quickly analyze a situation and take immediate action based on the current facts on hand. What they came to realize was that because they were only listening to each other, they weren’t getting a very balanced picture. With the help of our Human Resources department, they sought out others from within the company who would participate in their meetings. We found someone who was more careful and deliberate, and someone who would put a human face on the facts and analyses. These people were encouraged to fully participate and to share their perspectives.
This small action alone changed the temperament of the meetings, and allowed our leadership to see angles that they hadn’t considered previously. Gradually, more people from different segments of our business were brought into the strategic planning process, and the company was better off for it. The company transitioned successfully from a small, family-owned business to a medium-sized, employee-owned company. Employee morale improved. The corporate staff was once again able to work together effectively. We continued to explore different directions, and respond to changes in our industry, but had a higher degree of success, due in large part to the inclusion of a variety of opinions and personality styles.
That experience influenced how I make important decisions in my personal life. I recognize now that too much heart doesn’t always serve me well. I now seek what I call my “dose of reality.” I rely on a couple of more analytical and logical friends to give me feedback. Their input provides me with a broader perspective and more balanced picture from which to make my final decision. Oh yes, the scales will always be slightly tipped toward the heart for me, but that’s as it should be, given who I am.
In your own life, dear reader, consider who you rely on to help you make decisions. Are you getting input from someone who comes at it from a different angle than you do? If not, I encourage you to consider doing so. We were given both a head and a heart, so it must be important that we use them both!