From “HBR“…

Just as an architect thinks carefully about how to best design environments and physical spaces to avoid inefficiencies, managers can adopt choice architecture. Choice architecture, a term used by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein in their 2008 book Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness, refers to the way in which people’s decisions can be influenced by how choices are presented to them. Once managers consciously recognize the flawed thinking that is part of human nature, they can find ways to better design decision-making contexts.

One of the core functions of the executive role is to framework and performance contexts in such a manner as to enhance the ability of their team to achieve excellence—essentially, to frame the game. Often, this is thought of only as an exercise in developing goals, rules, policies, etc. in order to give team members some framework to organize their work. However, as the article above notes, there are innate biases in all of us that can sabotage our ability to execute effectively. It is incumbent on us as leaders, to block and tackle these biases through thoughtful frame of the performance contexts—to reduce the choice set to those values that avoid undesirable outcomes. However, we must also be aware of our limitations with regard to bias. At the heart of it, leaders must behave with pastoral care to work over time to reduce the impact of bias in themselves and their teams.

From “The Junior Executive”…

At a minimum, the executive is responsible for providing a physically and psychologically safe work environment. Pastoral thinking moves beyond these basic points of care. It involves taking an interest in the betterment of the employees to ensure that they fulfill their potential in the team or company. A good example of the benefits of this is the Hawthorne effect, as demonstrated in a classic time study of work showing that workers greatly improved performance not because of changes to lighting, hours or task, but due to the simple fact of being considered and involved (Mayo, 1945). That is, the circumstances of executing the study—interviews, feedback, involvement and show of concern—were the actual influencers on performance, not the mechanics of the work. As an executive candidate we must develop a capacity for pastoral thinking and demonstrate it consistently to our subordinates.

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