April 13, 2011

Situationally–aware leaders, and the reason I'm always late.

Yesterday's session made me feel a little uneasy about being a leader in the future. We all saw some of the terrible things that happened when people are not properly aware of their surroundings, and the bad decisions or poor judgement that this can result in. Obviously, these people are responsible for their own actions. However, we also discussed that leaders hold a great level of responsibility for the working environment they create. If the team fails from a business perspective, that is likely to be down to them to some degree. But, imagine if you were a leader, and someone working for you died on the job. How terrible would you feel? How scary a thought is that. That makes me question whether I want the responsibility of leadership. I know it's an extreme case, but we saw over and over again that these things can happen. What are your thoughts on this? I'm really curious.

Also, we spoke about the errors people can make, relating to: information gathering, interpretation, and anticipation. I wanted to apply this to myself, and decided to analyse why I am so often late by just a few minutes. There are probably a lot of reasons, and this is likely just a simplification, using this model, but I figure it's worth a shot! Is it about gathering of information? No, I don't think so - I'm quite organised, and I pretty much always know what time I am meant to be somewhere, or what time the train leaves, etc. Is it about interpretation? Well, no I don't think so, I always think about what I have to do, how it all fits together, what time I have to leave in order to be somewhere, etc. I think my problem is anticipation - not just for this, but for a lot of errors I make, I tend to be an optimist, and rarely think about the worse case scenario. This results in leaving things to the last minute, assuming things will take the minimum amount of time that they could, not being able to think ahead about sources of so-called 'randomness' in my day, like stopping to talk to someone on the street, or getting an important email, or the air in my bike wheels being low and requiring pumping, etc.

So why am I unable to learn this? To understand the upper and lower limits properly, rather than just assuming the lower limits will apply to me. I think it comes down to poor judgement, and there are perhaps a lot of different internal biases I can use to explain. For example, the representativeness heuristic - I don't seem to understand the underlying statistics, and always assume that lower limits apply to me. This could be due to overconfidence bias. I also seem to have a short memory when it comes to being late - I think that I'll learn, it won't happen again, and I make the same old estimates about how long things take. This is anchoring at play. And why don't I ever learn? Perhaps it is the curse of knowledge - maybe I tend to think looking back that it was a simple certain reason, that I won't make the mistake again, and that I don't need to change approach. Hopefully, developing this thought on the blog will help...

Linking back to leaders and situational awareness - I think that bias can play a part in all three types of error. I have only shown the ones that apply to me, and for anticipation at that.


- 4 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Oh, how terrible things that “someone working for you died on the job”. I cannot imagine this extreme case happen. Hi, Yanik, if you are a leader, do you allow this thing happen? Oh, no, never! ....Come on, my friend, we are pursue excellence rather than a ‘tyrant’. I know you are very friendly, hahaha…..so when you are a leader in the future, please do not let that thing happen.

    13 Apr 2011, 21:42

  2. LOL Anna, well of course I do not want this to happen! But that is what I am worried about; that despite my best efforts, it could still happen anyway. In any of the situations that we saw, there would have been a leader involved, who in some way did not fulfil his obligation to his people, resulting in death. It is a horrible thought, and I hope it never happens to me, but it is certainly a worry.

    13 Apr 2011, 22:19

  3. Yanik,
    In the example of the doctor injecting the injection in a wrong way, to me was a failure of Charismatic leadership. I think it is the charisma of a doctor, his/her knowledge and expertise that is idealogical for all the junior doctors, and they seek to be like him/her. It is to me a perfect example of charismatic leadership. But in the end, they are human, and can make mistakes. What is the point of the group if they cannot be participative, just beside doing some sort of technical job delegated to them. Hence, as I am seeing it, it was the charismatic style of leadership, that was partly responsible for the failure.
    Also, I was wondering if a legal action was to be taken for this, would it just be the doctor who’d be punished or the whole team?

    13 Apr 2011, 23:40

  4. Hi, Yanik. I cannot understand you . Why do you do your best efforts, it could still happen? If I were a boss, I would like to accept bankrupt rather than to accept any died…..If a leader let people died for he or she, actually he or she has already not a leader.

    14 Apr 2011, 00:25


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