I’ve found that a lot of smart people are bad decision-makers. And primarily, when they make bad decisions it’s on “what to pay attention to.”
Knowing what to care about, and what to not care about are often how I identify experienced/high-quality board members. New board members either care about everything, or not enough stuff. Experiences board members are really good at knowing which issues to dig into, and which ones should be left up to management.
But it’s also how I’ve started to identify good CEOs, and even people I’d like to work with in the future.
Smart people who are bad decision-makers often “pass on deals” because they’ve found something wrong with it. But they’ve missed the fact that the problem doesn’t matter. Sure — there is an issue, but a large issue about a small corner case often is less troublesome than a big issue that’s well-defended.
And on top of that, smart people can trap themselves. They’re so good at identifying a problem, digging into it, troubleshooting it, and resolving a conflict that by the time they’ve picked their head up it’s too late to realize all the “big items” were completely ignored during their deep dive. That yes, they were right the whole time, but it was the wrong thing to be right about.
The smart person often finds it harder to be a good decision-maker, because they are so trapped untangling the logic traps all around them. All the issues they can find, that are fixable. They get so stuck fixing all the problems they forget that the main problem of them all is picking which issues to fix.