How to become a data-driven business leader
The adage of ‘sometimes you just know’ stands many business leaders in good stead. So, what if all the right information becomes available? When the best course of action can be proven with data, do we abandon instinct? Claude Schuck, regional manager - Middle East at Veeam explains
All human beings have instinct. It’s something every one of us possesses. For some of us it’s a case of our hearts ruling our heads. Sometimes it’s a case of making decisions when we don’t have all the right information to go on. Regardless, gut-instinct is an underrated asset in business.
The old adage of ‘sometimes you just know’ stands many business leaders in good stead. So, what if all of the right information becomes available? When the best course of action can be proven with data, do we abandon instinct?
The truth is business leaders are getting more data. It’s coming to them and they’re searching for it. But data doesn’t always present answers. That’s where the combination of experience, instinct and consultancy meets data, information and numbers.
Rational versus emotional
To understand leadership, you have to understand people. Myers Briggs’ personality typing model suggests that humans have four energies: emotional, rational, emotional, introvert and extrovert.
It’s usually easy to identify whether people make decisions based on rationality or emotion; the same way that it’s usually easy to identify whether people gain energy from being alone or being around people.
There are also certain characteristics we associate with certain personality types. The archetypal emotional leader would therefore base more decisions on instinct. They may dismiss data and follow their heart. Whereas rational leaders are analytical. They will pore over all the available information before making a call.
The danger in stereotyping people, particularly those in leadership positions, is not accounting for balance. All humans have the ability to analyse, alongside more instinctive tendencies. A scientist can be superstitious the same as an artist can obsess over his/her sales numbers.
Modern business leaders of all personality types are faced with a new challenge, but a huge opportunity: data. Information is no longer the preserve of the analyst, but those who analyse the data at their disposal will make superior decisions.
However, in business it’s not always enough to identify the right course of action, but it is necessary to do so at the right time. This brings us to the issue of speed.
Thinking fast and slow
The more traditional school of thought is that businesses that make decisions fast win. Slow decision making has been labelled as a business killer.
However, there is a prevailing counter-theory which suggests that businesses need to think slower. That it’s more important to decide correctly than to decide quickly.
The latter accounts for the always-on nature of data in the modern, digital enterprise. Businesses who are ignoring the data will be found out eventually, even if they realise short term gains by acting fast.
The availability of data in the modern business means it’s not simply about speed of decision making, but speed of thought. Quick thinking is different to decisive action. You can decide quickly but decide badly. Whereas quick thinking involves weighing up your surroundings, abilities and options in a short enough space of time that you gain an advantage.
This is where rationality meets emotion and where thinking fast trumps thinking slow. Businesses that learn to think fast and smart will be the disruptors. It’s about analysing the available data in a way that accelerates decision making.
For the data-driven business leader, the mantra is come to exactly the right decision and do it faster than everybody else.
The data-driven business leader
Business leaders are at different stages when it comes to how invested in using data they are.
The 2019 Veeam Cloud Data Management Report surveyed business decision makers from across the globe, 93% told us that decision making needed to change as Cloud Data Management is deployed within businesses. Over a quarter (29%) said there needed to be a complete overhaul.
Data will absolutely change business leadership, but it will not subordinate it. There will still be a place for emotion. There will still be a place for ‘I just know’. Business leaders have an expansive pool of experience, expertise and acumen to draw on before they get to the data.
The difference is that modern business leaders will go to the data. Some will do so sooner and more readily than others, but those who refuse to will struggle to survive.
Furthermore, business leaders will set about creating a data-driven culture. Almost three-fifths (59%) of business decision makers said that company culture must change to view new technology entering the workplace as a co-worker.
This collaboration between humans and information is what will shape the modern business. As Cloud Data Management permeates every enterprise, business leaders will incorporate data into their decision making more and more.