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Brain circuits

An exercise to help you remember the importance of slowing down

Published 12 November 2021 in Brain circuits • 2 min read

A manager makes hundreds of decisions that will affect their team’s productivity, wellbeing and overall success. But it is important to remember that even if you have a history of making good decisions, in times of crisis you need to slow down and make sure you are operating in a calm manner.

Here is a quick exercise to help you test yourself. Set a timer for 10 seconds, and then consider this problem:

A tennis racket and a ball cost €1.10. The racket costs €1 more than the ball. How much is the ball?

What did you answer?

Many people (even those who are good at math) automatically answer 10 cents. But the correct answer is 5 cents, because you must remember to add the two costs together.

This is an example of what I call people’s “fast” brain taking over. We all have a fast brain and a slow brain, and it is important as a leader to train your fast brain to stay under control. In times of stress, it is common for the fast brain to take over and the result is making bad decisions.

One of our biggest biases as humans is overconfidence. When you are overconfident in your knowledge that too can lead to poor decision-making, so you must seek out additional information and evaluate it carefully, even in times of stress.

Sameh Abadir is the co-director of IMD’s signature program, Orchestrating Winning Performance.


Sameh Abadir

Professor of Leadership and Negotiation at IMD

Sameh Abadir is Professor of Leadership and Negotiation at IMD. He advises companies on negotiations and runs negotiation workshops in English, French and Arabic. He has recently directed custom programs for Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, Jerónimo Martins, ArcelorMittal, and Merck, and he is Director of IMD’s Crisis Management online program. He was Co-Director of IMD’s signature program Orchestrating Winning Performance (OWP) and Co-Director of IMD’s Negotiating for Value Creation (NVC) open programs.


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