If you're a smart leader, then you've probably figured out that you can't shoulder everything yourself, not to mention that there's an incredible amount you have yet to know. So turning to experts wiser than yourself to grow both yourself and your business is incredibly prudent.
But which experts are the experts, the reliable ones who are not only accurate but who are likely to give you the best decisions when you need guidance the most?
According to researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, your best bet is to go with the experts who make decisions that are most similar to the decisions of others, as these people will have a high rate of decision accuracy. This is seemingly in direct contrast to popular business culture, which says it's advantageous to look for those with different responses or "break the mold" ways of thinking.
To come to this conclusion, the research team looked at work across multiple disciplines, confirming the hypothesis for yes/no questions with mathematical modeling. They also analyzed published predictions and diagnoses, including skin cancer analysis from 40 dermatologists, breast cancer analysis from 101 radiologists, geopolitical predictions from 90 forecasters, and a general knowledge test that asked 99 participants to pick the larger of two American cities.
As for why the model works, lead author and researcher Ralf Kurvers asserts that, while less-than-stellar workers can be bad in ways that are all over the map, experts who excel in their field tend to be good in their field in similar ways.
Importantly, this doesn't mean that they cannot deviate, take risks, or innovate individually. It simply means that they have specific skills, resources, or insights that help them come to similar conclusions when they encounter the same data or circumstances.
Actionable Applications for the Office
The study authors note that the model requires individuals to have made between 20 to 30 observable decisions. But you can get answers for comparison in a range of ways. For example, you can ask specific questions in an interview or qualifying examination, present a decision-making candidate with a hands-on opportunity to solve a problem, or have them identify critical elements from a list. So the model can accommodate your leadership style and doesn't have to book your calendar for months down the road.
But the ability to give accurate decisions is only half of being a qualified expert. The other half is the ability to fit the dynamics of your team while delivering healthy challenges. The expert you select should have a clear sense of your vision and goals and be aligned with them, and they should be able to communicate their correct conclusions or advice in a way that resonates.
So once you've identified the candidates who are going to give you similar answers, take your time in assessing how they interact, and let your team offer feedback about the impression each candidate gave. And because candidates can become more open and comfortable as they get to know everyone, give them more than one opportunity in different environments to engage with your workers.
Keep in mind too that the ability to make excellent decisions in a given area doesn't necessarily mean that an individual will be a high performer across the board. For example, they might not be great at managing time or organizing themselves or events. Even these "best" people are going to have areas where they might need some extra support from you, and they don't deserve to be overloaded or stressed. Watch their workload, and connect them to the people who are experts in the areas that need some growth.
Experts can touch your business from virtually any angle, such as speeding up manufacturing, avoiding legal hot water, and improving environmental sustainability. They can also free you to more creative processes, saving time and improving your overall competitive advantage. Any method that allows you to identify and choose the best of these individuals thus is an incredible asset you should use regularly. And as you perform your comparisons, remember--there is always a reason why the best experts agree. Learn what that reason is and you'll broaden your perspective for lifelong advantages.