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Learn the key ideas of the book by Helio Fred Garcia

The Agony of Decision

Acquire ‘mental readiness’ when faced with a crisis

The Agony of Decision is a book of practical tips to help manage large unforeseen crises in the business environment. Garcia offers us a conceptual map to navigate moments of great change, beginning with the qualities that every good leader should have. Mental readiness, meaning a combination of emotional discipline, in-depth knowledge and intellectual rigour, are the main objectives of a company leader who seeks to train their employees. Only once they have acquired the necessary individual skills, can a leader be ready to manage a crisis in an effective and timely manner, aware that the outcome depends on the decisions they make.

The Agony of Decision
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Many useful tips to:

  • Understand the causes and consequences of a crisis.
  • Learn to manage a crisis before it happens.
  • Develop the right attitude to help manage crises.

The author of the book:

Helio Fred Garcia is a writer, consultant, and a highly sought after business coach. President of Logos Consulting Group, as well as director of the Logos Institute for Crisis Management & Executive Leadership, he has had clients from all over the world.  In more than 40 years of his career, he has helped numerous companies get through numerous crises. He is a professor at several high profile American universities, such as New York University and Columbia, where he teaches Crisis Management, Leadership, Communication and Ethics.


Making the right decision at the right time is the goal of every good leader

One of the essential qualities a leader must have is the ability to manage a crisis. The word crisis comes from the Greek, krisis, which means “change”.

A crisis can crop up when you least expect it, due to internal company errors, or to external factors, and because of their unpredictable nature, the head of a company is not always prepared to deal with them. There is no guarantee that a company will be able to overcome them, but they are all able to work on their aptitude and attitude towards crises, until they reach a point where they are able to respond to them quickly and efficiently.

In reality, the only form of crisis prevention is preparation. Of course, experience can help, but the best way to prepare oneself is to study various cases of success or failure. This practice will enable us to maintain an overview of the bigger picture when crises hit, without allowing its physical and emotional aspects to directly affect us, the consequences of which affect the company and the many people involved. Learning from other people’s experiences can help us avoid the trauma of direct failure.

The determining trait of a leader is mental readiness, a well-trained attitude of emotional discipline, strong knowledge and intellectual precision.

Emotional discipline is needed to control the conflicting emotions which go hand in hand with tough times, like fear of making mistakes or anxiety that comes from the need to solve a problem immediately.

A leader must have the ability to remain rational in order to objectively understand the crisis for what it is. In other words, a leader is someone who can stay calm in a storm.

There are even specific courses to learn to manage the stress caused by high pressure situations. These courses help stimulate effective responses in situations of physical stress in the shortest possible time.

Another essential quality required for effective crisis management, is an in-depth knowledge of the company identity, of the people who work in it, and of the setting in which the crisis develops. Detailed knowledge implies complete understanding of the problem at hand, of what works and what doesn’t, and why.

Strength and discipline are also needed. Being well versed in standard formulae is not enough to lead a company out of danger. Rigour is as important as training, because training is required to fortify one’s ability to lead through a crisis.

Rigour helps with clear thinking and helps to clearly define the problems to be solved. It helps to focus better on the entire scenario, to understand the possible consequences, and to take responsibility for one’s choices.


The key ideas of "The Agony of Decision"

Making the right decision at the right time is the goal of every good leader
Understanding a crisis means coming through it knowing how to choose: the process of discernment through a sequence of questions
The decisional criteria. Satisfying expectations is the key to maintaining trust
Bad communication is a sign that a leader is not ready
Training discipline
Take-home message

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