Why the art of decision making is critical to your leadership.
One of the primary differences between a mid-level leader and a senior leader is the size and number of decisions they need to make in a day. As we progress and grow as leaders we will be called upon to make more decision more often with ever increasing impact.
So, becoming comfortable with and being seen to be a strong, decisive decision maker is a critical factor in establishing our leadership credibility.
A quick and well thought through decision backed by logic, gut instinct and taking personal responsibility for whatever the outcome will be, can boost our professional standing in the eyes of those around us.
Appearing indecisive, on the other hand, tends to leave an impression of doubt and lack of confidence, and our capabilities and experience can come into question. Add to that the personal frustration, energy and time that goes along with a protracted decision-making process, indecisiveness is rarely seen as a positive professional attribute.
A 2014 study of 6500 workers found that decisiveness was one of the top three skills sets that make the biggest impact on helping leaders to build credibility. (The other 2 skills sets were open communication and personal presence).
So, clearly, it’s an important leadership quality.
As someone who for many years agonised over even quite simple decisions, I can see now how my old habits and indecisive ways held me back. I’m sure at times my team watched as I dithered and procrastinated. I often caused projects to be delayed as I struggled to make key decisions. Or even worse… I failed to make any decision at all… leaving good ideas languishing.
How would you rate your decision-making skills?
- Do you have unshakeable confidence when making the big calls required of you within your role?
- Do you agonise over decisions, taking way longer than you would like?
- Do you get stuck in a cycle of seeking input, collaboration and agreement hoping to make everyone happy even when you know it’s not possible?
Making difficult decisions is what we look to leaders to do.
We expect our leaders to have the courage and confidence to make the tough decision, give direction and take responsibility for it.
Here are 5 keys to becoming a more decisive decision maker
1. Take a balanced view.
Our natural tendency can often be to look at what can go wrong or the risks associated with a decision. Make sure you are taking a balanced view considering not only what can go wrong but also what the benefits of a decision could be.
Often when I’m procrastinating over a decision I like to call in my good friend Richard Branson. He suggests asking, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” And “if that happened, could I handle it?” Almost always the answer is YES.
2. Embrace uncertainty.
Indecisiveness is often a result of wanting to be certain about the outcome. Looking for certainty is nothing short of torturous… because it can never be achieved! You can only be certain of an outcome once a decision has been made and action is taken.
Learn to make decisions based on the information you have on hand. A timely decision made with confidence and based on experience will almost always trump one that’s perceived to be slow and indecisive.
3. Engage stakeholders.
This is all about getting buy in and discovering issues you may have been unaware of. But ladies, we need to be careful not to overdo this one. We have a tendency to want to consult and to get consensus from the team. Don’t over play this behaviour or you could be perceived as indecisive or lacking confidence. There comes a time when you quite simply have to move on from the fact finding and collaboration phase and make a decision!
4. Use your internal GPS.
Trust your intuition and your internal knowing. Over the years you have built up a wealth of experience and knowledge, which fuels our internal GPS. Trust it. It’s what allows us to make reliable, quick decisions when we take the time to listen. Your gut instincts will be right way more often than you think.
5. Own it.
Once you make a decision, own it! Speak of your decision with confidence and conviction. Follow through with bold courageous action. No flip flopping or second guessing your decision once it has been made.
And most importantly you must own the outcome… good or bad.
Could you be more decisive?
Reflect on the decisions you currently have on your plate right now. Could you be more decisive in your decision making?
Yes, it’s important to listen, gather critical information, and weigh up the options but without a decisive decision all this good work could go to waste. Your leadership credibility and reputation is at stake.
Make decisions with confidence and courage, take action and move on to the next big decision.