Why Do Good Managers Sometimes Make Bad Decisions?

Skilled people make mistakes on a regular basis, and the field that addresses these mistakes is called decision neuroscience, which examines how people assign emotion to decisions, how they can mistake priorities and how they can be jolted into states in which their decision-making powers are hampered, according to the Harvard Business Review. Decision neuroscience can be expressed simply as the idea that humans are fallible and even the most educated and intuitive can make mistakes.

Even experienced managers make mistakes when they lose sight of the larger picture. This can occur when they attach emotional significance to a certain outcome and then make decisions directed at either causing or averting that outcome.

Managers can become locked into patterns once they identify tactics that prove successful. Once those same tactics become outdated or are rendered irrelevant by circumstance, managers can have a hard time adjusting to the new situation and accepting that a new approach is needed and the old one must be set aside.

Inappropriate self-interest, distorting attachments and misleading memories are three factors identified as primary mistake-inducers by the Harvard Business Review. In short, they represent a manager's capacity to be driven by ambition or greed, by personal sentiment and favoritism and by data which they have misconstrued to themselves to fit a picture.