No tape-delayed decisions here! Only real-time decisions build real excellence today. Planning is important, but once we have all the facts we need, waiting to make the decision does not improve our decision.

Take a look at this next paragraph. Go ahead, read it!

Cna yuo raed tihs? . i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

It’s amazing how our minds are wired to make decisions, in this case decipher words, with far less than complete information. We have this same capacity in our leadership roles. For many leaders, it is a defining moment the first time they use their intuition to “fill in the blanks” and make a real-time decision for their teams, just as we filled in the blanks to read the above paragraph.

The 80/20 Principle can help us make real-time decisions – smart and fast decisions. Imagine sorting all of the daily decisions you make into piles – important and unimportant. Typically, only about one in five decisions will fall into the important pile. Don’t hassle with or spend much time on the 80 percent of those unimportant decisions. In fact, try to delegate these. Focus your efforts on the most critical 20 percent of the decisions.

Go even further to apply the 80/20 Principle to your important decisions. Gather 80 percent of the data in the first 20 percent of your time available, then make the decision and act as if you were 100 percent certain!

We should re-apply our learning from 80/20 decision making. If our decision is not working, we should change our decision sooner than later. The real results of our decisions are a more powerful source of data than any hypothetical analysis we can do.

On the other hand, if our decision is working, we should double our efforts. Even if we do not yet fully understand why it is working – results are results. Of course, we should simultaneously try to identify the underlying forces of our success.

Our ability to make real-time decisions is directly related to how well we listen. Remember what Mark Twain said, “If we were supposed to talk more than we listen, we would have two mouths and one ear.” Excellent leaders listen at least 50 percent of the time.

I have spoken with hundreds of employees who experienced defining moments when their boss simply asked them what they thought… then really listened. If we’re not listening to our employees, we will gradually suffer from “blind spots” – weaknesses that are apparent to others but not to us.

Excellent leaders prevent blind spots by taking a moment to ask and listen so they can keep in tune with the realities of their employees.

This is particularly important because the higher you are in an organization, the more filtered the information you receive. It’s a natural and predictable phenomenon, but it’s also a precarious position for any leader. No leader wants to be “Elaine on the dance floor.” Therefore, the higher your leadership position, the more listening you need to do.

When we ask our employees what they think and listen to their answers, we are equipping ourselves with insights that enable future real-time decisions. The key word is future.

We must collect employee and customer input on an ongoing basis, to have enough data to make real-time decisions. The information we have received enables us to use our leadership intuition to quickly act and make real-time decisions.

Take the 7 Moments Indicator to help your pursuit for leadership excellence.