How People Feel is as Important as Data: Gallup CEO

February 13, 2023 thehrobserver-hrobserver-WGS

By The HR Observer Staff

Engaging with math in making decisions is considered one of the three elements to incorporate critical thinking and drive leaders to make decisions, according to Jon Clifton, CEO of Gallup.

Speaking during the World Government Summit in Dubai, he said that leaders must continue to inform themselves, but also to engage in math to make decisions that benefit people.

“If you are going to be a great leader, you need to engage in critical thinking,” said Clifton.

“Again, if we use our basic human instincts, sometimes they don’t necessarily tell us the same thing that math does and that is absolutely critical,” he added.

The problem with probabilistic thinking

“You can over apply math to your life and you have to be careful about that,” he said.

Human thoughts are not driven by rational thought, he explained but rather by  emotions. Gallup believes that 30% of people’s decisions are rational and 70% are emotional which is an important element to understand how to handle humans.

“We need to lean on technology as much as possible. AI is going to be an incredible gift to the world, but only if we use it in the right way,” he elaborated.

Therefore, emotions based data must be adopted into the models that leaders are using to fully understand the way people behave and think.

“The output that it [AI] gives us is usually magical, but on the other hand, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s always right,” he added.

Clifton spoke about the challenges of the technologies in enabling people to make the right kind of decisions as it does not take how people feel into account.

“One of the flaws of much of the math that we are applying to our leadership today is rooted in traditional economic information. It uses things like unemployment data. It uses things like income, it uses things like GDP per capita. What it doesn’t include are human emotions,” he explained.

Gallup has run research on countries that reported that the GDP per capita was rising  in almost a perfect linear fashion in all of those countries. Clifton said; however, when they looked at how people felt, they were declining in all of them in almost a perfect way.

“What jobs were telling us, what income was telling us was a far different story than how people felt,” he said.

He explained that “it’s so critical” that any of the models that leaders are using must include traditional economic indicators, but they also must include how people feel. “And that’s critical.”

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