railroad tracks separating transit

Who made that decision? That is the most ridiculous approach to solving that problem I have ever seen!”

“I don’t agree however, I understand where she is coming from.”

“Not the way I would have done it.”

“I would have made the same decision.”

Do any of the above quotes sound familiar. To me they do and they all center around decision making, one of the top functions of every leader. If it is a top function, should it have some degree of process to it?

What is your decision-making process? Can you write three factors you consider on every decision. I think it’s worth spending some time thinking about what should be considered.

Whatever your process, I believe the following three considerations should be deliberately assessed in every decision.

  1. Emotion
  2. Bias
  3. Logic

These three elements rise to the top because they are part of every decision consciously or subconsciously. Let’s talk about how.

Emotion: everyone reacts with a degree of emotion when decisions impact their values. Those decisions that align with one’s values, make them happy, those not aligned bring out negative emotions.

Bias: we all have them based on our personal experiences and they influence our thinking. Being alert and sensitive to others and our own biases can serve leaders well.

Logic: is the reasoning process used to assess information, data, and other factors to make a decision. Being cognizant of our own as well as others processes will also serve leaders well.


Let’s look at a couple of examples and see how the three elements, emotion, bias, and logic impact a decision. First recall a decision you have recently made or been part of. Keep the decision in your head as we assess two examples.

The Family Holiday Decision

Where and how to celebrate the holidays this year? With COVID-19 impacting every facet of life what decision did you make on holiday plans. If traditions in your circle include large family gatherings, there may have been discussions on how to proceed this year. It is likely the participants had a wide range of input and some with emotions. The emotional input came from those passionate about what they believe is the right thing to do.  Maintaining tradition, don’t risk spreading the virus, other options, etc.

Some have bias for doing all they can to be together and taking maximum precautions. Others are risk adverse. No way are they traveling even if everyone is following the CDC guidance.

Logically each member has come to their conclusion based on their process of data collection, assessment, and reasoned thought. Do you know what the process was?

Going Back to Work in the Office

Similar to the Holiday decision. The emotions will come from alignment or misalignment with one’s values. Some folks have a bias for operating together. Others prefer remote work. Yet others have bias for trusting or mistrusting the government guidance on protocols to return to an in-person workplace. The amount of research and data sources all provide the logic that informed and produced an individual’s decision.

Your Example

In the example you recalled at the beginning of this exercise, how did emotion, bias, and logic play into your decision?

 So What?

The elements of emotion, bias, and logic impact how leaders make decisions and the reaction to their decisions.Effective leaders make a positive impact.

 As a leader, if you ignore to consider the three elements within you and those you impact, you may limit your positive impact.


Using the example at the beginning of this exercise, in your mind place yourself in a room with those affected by your decision. What if you leaned back and considered the following?

  • How are my emotions, biases, and logic affecting my decision?
  • How are the emotions, biases, and logic of each person in this room affecting their decision?

Might this change your approach to the decision you are about to make? For me, it may or may not change my decision. It does add to my analysis, broadens my perspective and most importantly, it adds to how I present my decision. This creates clarity for me and those I lead.