Accueil / News / Leadership and decision-making: the ability to change your mind

Leadership and decision-making: the ability to change your mind

Changing your mind sometimes requires a lot of intelligence and #confidence.

We’re on the brink of nuclear war…no apparent reason to change our minds. And yet…

In this scene, the commander of an American nuclear submarine has been ordered to destroy the Red October, a Soviet nuclear submarine. The USSR’s political authorities have explained to their US counterparts that the Red October’s commander has become uncontrollable…

The US commander obeys initial orders. He is at sea. He can hardly communicate with his superiors. There’s no reason to change his mind. And yet, on board, an officer convincingly defends another hypothesis that will lead the commander to change his mind.

How can this be? If he’s right to change his mind, he’ll be congratulated. If he’s wrong, he’ll not only be punished, but could even cause World War III!

The commander does his job: he decides.

👉The final effect sought (EFR)
The commander has a global understanding of his mission.
Destroying Red October is just one objective, but not the EFR. His overall or strategic mission is to deter the USSR and preserve peace. The global mission is superior to an objective. The objective can change.

👉 Mental flexibility
The commander then reprograms the entire sequence, considering the cases that do not conform, and leaves himself the possibility of going back.

👉 Risk-taking
By exploring a new path, risk-taking becomes very important. If he loses his “bet”, the loss could be significant and he will have to fight without the element of surprise. If he wins this bet, the profit will be maximum.

👉Dissenting opinions
Allowing opposing opinions, being able to hear them, is one of the keys to collective intelligence and the signature of great leaders.

Changing one’s mind at such a moment denotes the great self-confidence possible when an “authentic” alignment is made between oneself, one’s convictions, orders and the environment.

👉The “safety circle
This is the environment created by a confident hierarchy, which knows that the commander cannot receive orders every second, and that he must therefore assess the situation autonomously in order to make decisions in line with the EFR.

👉Two-way confidence
Self-confidence is reinforced by the confidence of the hierarchy. But it is guaranteed if this hierarchy inspires trust, if it accepts the share of risk inherent in trust.

A leader capable of changing his mind at a crucial moment does what he’s paid to do: take the risk of making decisions based on trust.

Visit us at, we talk about trust, #leadership, #collectiveintelligence, #decision-making and #management.

PEARL Crisis Response

Back to news