Business Philosophy: Asserting Authority Versus Deferring to Experts

Businesses are all about decisions. Not every decision is going to be correct, and not all of them are going to be based on sufficient data. It’s these forks in the road that determine whether you find yourself in the promised land of success or in a barren wasteland of bankruptcy.

I’ve always thought of leadership as being the one person in the room who isn’t afraid of looking like he knows nothing. This is because it’s a leader’s responsibility to ascertain a situation as best as possible in order to make the best possible decision based on the available information.

But there are times when you simply don’t agree with the people you entrust your company with. It’s during these times that your experts tell you one thing, but your gut tells you another. Now, a decision needs to be made and, as a leader, the final say is yours. When is the right time to trust your gut and when should you defer to your experts?

The hard truth is that there’s no definite answer here. It’s difficult to prepare for big decisions thoroughly because there are so many variables involved. Standardized tests like the MCAT, on the other hand, are much easier to prepare for because the answers are almost always definite. Either you’re entirely right or you’re totally wrong, and a simple MCAT test prep will go a long way in ensuring your success.

But business decisions are an entirely different matter because there are so many grey areas that you need to think of. There are no definite endings in this kind of decision making. A lot of concessions have to be made, some worse than others.

It’s even more difficult to swallow because of the fact that we are all bound to make mistakes along the way. But that does not mean that we are doomed to constantly make mistakes.

The beauty of the brain is that it enables all of us to learn. According to the principles of psychology, learning is a permanent change in behavior that is a result of prior experience.

There’s a reason why, once we singe ourselves on a stove, we never do it again. The error registers in our memory and it practically becomes branded into it. The same can be said for making the wrong decisions.

This is why experience is the sole determinant of whether or not you can assert your authority versus deferring to your experts. An experienced business owner is able to see things that even the experts cannot, though this is assuming that you’re more experienced than your experts. The exact opposite can be said if your experts are more experienced than you are.

The best part about being able to learn is that we are also able to learn from people who are better than us. We all function on borrowed wisdom, and with that in mind, we all improve.

So, whether or not you should assert your authority or listen to your experts is unclear, but the one thing that’s absolute is that you have to surround yourself with experts nonetheless.

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