Many of my readers know me as a cybersecurity expert. More than 12 years of blogging on “security stuff”, malware analyses, cyber attack attributions, new tools and a personal (public here) cybersecurity observatory contributed a lot to push me into this specific direction. However during the past 10 years I did play many different roles. I am a founder, a CEO, I’ve been managing direct and indirect M&A processes. I had to merge different business cultures and managing amazing and super-talented teams.
Throughout my prior experiences, I have encountered various types of leadership. Some notable ones include Bureaucratic leadership, Transformational leadership, and Transactional leadership. However, in recent years, there has been a growing interest in “data-driven” leadership. This approach is based on the idea that having access to perfect information would lead to making the best decisions. But what I’ve learn on my own is a little difference.
Bureaucratic leadership is a leadership style that focuses on following established procedures and rules. Leaders who adopt this style prioritize structure, hierarchy, and adherence to established protocols. They ensure that tasks are performed according to set guidelines and that everyone knows their roles and responsibilities. This leadership style is commonly seen in organizations with strict regulations and processes.
Transformational leadership is a leadership style that inspires and motivates followers to go beyond their self-interests and work towards a collective purpose. Leaders who adopt this style are charismatic and have a clear vision for the future. They empower their followers, encourage innovation and creativity, and foster an environment of growth and development. Transformational leaders inspire their team members to reach their full potential and achieve
Transactional leadership is a leadership style that focuses on exchange and negotiation between leaders and their followers. Leaders who adopt this style set clear expectations, define roles and responsibilities, and establish rewards and consequences based on performance. They use a transactional approach, emphasizing agreements and contracts with their team members. Transactional leaders provide guidance and supervision, and they reward or punish based on the achievement of set targets and goals.exceptional results.
Leaders in every organization are faced with the crucial task of making decisions. Whether they choose to implement Leadership A, B, or C, decision-making plays a fundamental role. In today’s world, two primary approaches to decision-making have emerged: data-driven leadership and decision-driven leadership. These methodologies empower leaders to make informed choices based on careful analysis and structured decision-making processes.
Data-driven leadership is a concept that emphasizes the importance of relying on data before making decisions. Individuals who embrace this approach place a strong emphasis on checking and analyzing data before formulating any response. This ensures that decisions are well-informed and based on evidence (image taken from here).
On the flip side, those primarily engaged in decision–driven data analysis leadership direct their attention towards “The decision to be made”. This approach emphasizes the need to seek data with a clear purpose, as well as the process of uncovering insights from the unknown rather than relying solely on what is already known. These distinctions underline the significant differences between the two models.
Data-driven analytics and decision-driven principles may both rely on data, but they approach decision-making from different perspectives. In a recent article on the UX Collective blog, Kyle Byrd provides a concise summary of decision-driven leadership, which I have included below without any alterations. You can find the original article here.
1. Framing questions over finding ‘answers’
2. Gathering enough information to decide is more important than complete information
3. Exploring unknowns instead of optimizing knowns — avoiding pre-mature convergence by going “wide first, then narrow’
4. Identifying data blindspots (data that could impact a decision isn’t available)
5. Recognizing historical data may not model future events
I believe in today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world, the ability to adapt is far more important than striving for perfection or optimization. Rather than solely focusing on finding the missing pieces of a puzzle ( having the best data available), it is crucial to develop a deep understanding of the dynamic environments we navigate (market changes). By embracing this mindset, we can navigate the complexities that arise, allowing us to be more agile and responsive to the challenges that come our way. This approach recognizes that uncertainty is a given, and encourages us to continually learn, grow, and adjust accordingly. Our success lies not in trying to control every outcome, but rather in our ability to thrive amidst the unknown.
In radically uncertain environments, we interpret novel situations, establish ‘what’s going on here’, construct a cohesive narrative with incomplete information, and make decisions.Kyle Byrd (on medium)
On my point of view this is the real essence of freedom, the pure charism of complexity: to be adaptive and not optimized. Data are very important to build your knowledge base but without the right insights and own contributions it’s still hard to take right decisions.
Decision-Driven Leadership will drive our future ?
In this era of data accessibility and advanced reporting, the challenge lies not in obtaining answers, but rather in navigating the uncharted territories, asking the right questions, and encouraging emergent insights. With the power of AI at our disposal, the days of struggling with cumbersome dashboards are fading away. Now, answers to complex questions that previously required extensive exploration are just a simple prompt away. Rather than fixating on predefined targets, the focus shifts towards embracing the unknown, fostering curiosity, and mastering the unexpected.
“Successful decision‐makers balance data, experience, and intuition. They quickly sort through information, apply judgment, and are fierce interrogators of data to cultivate sharp insights. They know there is more to decision‐making than just the data. They resist being intoxicated by information.
Instead, they apply first‐order principles to understand what the decision really is, why it must be taken, and to what end. They then seek the relevant data to help make that decision. In short, they make informed decisions with incomplete information.”Decisions Over Decimals: Striking the Balance between Intuition nd Information writes
Having knowledge is undoubtedly a crucial foundation. However, it is the ability to derive insights, exercise sound judgment, take calculated risks, and ask pertinent questions that truly sets a leader apart. Especially in today’s dynamic and ever-changing world, these qualities serve as the primary guiding principles for effective leadership.