Call it intuition, a “hunch” or just a feeling deep down inside, but I suspect most everyone has had a similar experience when faced with a decision. What has been interesting for me is that the times I didn’t trust my initial “gut” reaction and over-analyzed the situation I would have been better off had I gone with my initial instinct. As a leader, you are put in the position to make difficult decisions that will have an impact on you personally, your team or your organization. While I’m certainly not implying that you should toss any other information out the window, through your experiences and past performance there’s a good chance that deep-down inside you already have an idea of what you need to do.
Maybe it’s how to handle that difficult employee that is interfering with the productivity of your team. You have a feeling that things just won’t get better and your “gut” tells you to cut him loose. But, you over think things, say to yourself “how can we make this work”, mostly because you want to avoid the uncomfortable situation of having that uncomfortable conversation. You already know what you should do, but most of us will try to over-think the situation, especially when our gut is telling us something we don’t want to hear.
Back when I was still working as a community banker, I was responsible for the bank’s core data processing system. It was the late 90s and we were faced with having to make a change because the system we were using was outdated and support would be going away soon. One of the big decisions was whether we should embrace a “batch” processing system like a majority of the banks were using, or if we should continue with our “real time” system. The latter was more expensive compared to other systems, but my “gut” was telling me this was one way to stand out from our competitors and give customers the most current, up-to-date information possible (which was largely unheard of for a small community bank at that time).
Despite the risks of being more transparent to our customers (meaning that a real-time system opens up the opportunity to have our customers see our mistakes since they were seeing what we were seeing at the bank), I trusted my instincts and pushed for the real-time system. But the big question was whether our customers would appreciate an immediate view of their information and could staff maintain the accuracy to ensure minimal mistakes on the bank’s part.
Shortly after installation we implemented the first generation of our online banking service. In just a short period of time our customers had literally fallen in love with the fact they could see their in-branch (teller), ATM, debit card, telephone banking and online transactions as soon as they were processed on the system. This was so much better than what other banks were providing and once word started to spread, we actually had people switch to our bank because they could get access to their information faster than at their current financial institution. Thank you “gut”!
Fast forward to present day. Taking the same situation as above, our customers weren’t tell me they wanted faster, real-time access to their information. That was my gut talking to me. I just “knew” that by positioning our bank as the bank that gave our customers access to their transaction history faster and more conveniently than our competitors it would pay off in the long end. Think about that and your industry. Don’t try to “catch up” and become a me-to type of organization. Think about what you could do to position yourself ahead of the competition and then take steps to make it happen.
Not sure what that may be? Shut up and listen… that little voice in the background is your “gut” talking to you. Chances are, you’re a lot smarter than you might think.
Author: Eric Cook
A 15-year community banking veteran, Cook is now a Certified Internet Business Consultant and works with financial institutions and small businesses and helps leverage the power of the Internet as a strategic business tool through effective website design, search engine strategies and social media. Part of the global organization WSI, he is part of the world’s largest Internet marketing organization and serves customers from coast-to-coast. You can learn more at www.PoweredByWSI.com or his blog www.EricCook.blogspot.com.