As a leader you’re constantly faced with decisions. How you handle them says a lot about you. And can have major implications for your business. So how can you become more effective at making decisions?
1) Make a decision about making a decision
When things come at us it’s tempting to deal with them in real time. Stop. Maybe that’s the wrong decision. Ask yourself three quick questions: 1) Does a decision need to be made? 2) Does it need to be made now? 3) Who should be involved in making the decision? The answers to these questions help you make a good decision about if, when and who should make a decision.
2) Be inquisitive and reflective, not judgmental and reactive
You’ve built up a base of knowledge over time. Yet, like every leader, you’re also guided by assumptions and even misconceptions. You’re subject to biases – what you want to be true can mask what is true.
What to do? Be inquisitive before being judgmental. Even if you think you know what should be done, ask why you believe that and what you might be overlooking. In short, take time to question your assumptions.
Then, reflect on the answers, don’t just react to them. Yes, you want to act with appropriate urgency but you don’t want to overreact. Take at least some time to understand the context in which a decision should be made.
3) Get appropriate involvement
The good news is that you shouldn’t make every decision. The bad news is that some leaders take this to mean every decision should be made by consensus. It shouldn’t. Some situations call for democratic decision-making, some for small group decision-making, and some for – yes – autocratic decision-making.
Appropriate involvement may mean getting input before a decision is made. Asking various stakeholders for their views. It may mean getting feedback once a tentative decision is made. To poke holes in that tentative decision. Or it may mean getting no input and feedback. In any case, just make sure the value of everyone’s time in making the decision doesn’t exceed the value of the decision.
4) Be measured, not mechanical
Often, decisions aren’t simply black-or-white. They’re nuanced. For example, it’s rarely a matter of simply centralizing or decentralizing, it’s a matter of determining what should be centralized or decentralized, and why. What should be done consistently or not, and why? In which areas should you cut costs, and why? Make sure your decisions are calibrated to the context of the situation at hand.
Finally don’t hold yourself to the standard of making perfect decisions. Hold yourself to the standard of applying these principles, learning from your decisions, and revising your approach to continually make better decisions.
Is that a decision you’re willing to make?
Make it happen.
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