No, it’s not that kind of post…although it WAS tempting to find a photo of a grey tie as the visual….Nope, this is about making the transition from being a “black and white” thinker to someone who is more comfortable with grey.
I’ve been debriefing a lot of 360 feedback surveys lately for mid-level managers identified as “top talent,” and there are some trends. One in particular has to do with difficulty “dealing with ambiguity.”
It’s a big leap from “doer” or subject matter expert to “manager,” and an even bigger one to “leader.” The further up the ladder you go, the less information you’ll have available to make increasingly complex decisions, and the more you have to rely on what others tell you.
But the further up you go, the more experience you’ve accumulated, and therefore your judgment is that much better.
The key to becoming more comfortable with ambiguity – with “grey area” – is in the trust you place on your own judgment.
One great exercise I suggest in my coaching is to keep track of your decisions. When confronted with one, stop and reflect for a moment – if you HAD to make the decision right now, what would you do? What does your intuition, your gut, your sixth sense tell you to do? Now record that decision – and then proceed with your fact-finding and information gathering and your analyzing and your scenario envisioning and your contingency assessing.
Once you’ve done everything you’d normally do, make the decision – and check it against what you would have done before your process.
Over time you’ll get a sense of how good your instincts are – and you’ll do it based on the data of the decisions you would have made versus the decisions you did make. So really, you’re using a black and white process to get comfortable with grey.
In business, in my experience, there are very few absolute black/white right/wrong situations. Every decision is layered and nuanced and filled with judgment. The key to your success will be in developing that judgment muscle, learning to trust it and using it with confidence – the more confidence you exude the more that others will in turn have confidence in you.
This post is based on tis #38 (Synthesis) in my book, The Complete Executive – The 10-Step System for Great Leadership Performance.
For more ideas about how to thrive on your way up the ladder check out my e-course “Career Charisma.”
And, as always, I’d love to hear your experiences on getting comfortable with “grey” – please share in the comment section below.