Aug
29

3 Steps That Will Help You Make Great Decisions

by  John Bossong  |  Leadership Coaching

Leaders make decisions. It’s what they do. It may be the most important thing they do.

Photo courtesy of iStock Photo

It’s not necessarily one individual decision that is important.   It’s the cumulative effect of decisions that build momentum, or destroy it.

As Jim Collins, author of Good To Great, states, these incremental decisions build momentum.  They create the flywheel effect, one small nudge at a time.

The great organizations have leaders and teams that decide, execute, decide, execute and they do this over and over again.   They make great decisions that turn the flywheel.

In this post I will share three things you can do to make better decisions as a leader.

1. Eliminate fear.  The biggest cause of poor decisions is fear.   Fear causes indecisiveness.  This is usually fear of the “what if”.   Fear is a liar.   It only shows up when you are doing something that matters.  Fear does not mess with average.  It causes discouragement and sometimes makes you want to quit.   To eliminate or reduce fear try these 4 things:

  • Give yourself time – the time spent making the decision should be proportionate to the impact of the decision.   Small impact, less time.  Big impact, a lot of time.
  • Have a lot of options – prepare plenty of options.  Look at the worst case scenario.
  • Train – train your associates to bring you solutions and not problems.
  • Create a deadline – set a deadline for the decision and stick to it.   Put it on the calendar.

2. Make great people decisions.  The best leaders have an ability to make great people decisions.  Get the right people on the bus first.   It’s not “what” but “who” that is important.    Surround yourself with good people that you trust to make great decisions on a daily basis.  The great leaders have the ability to pick these people.

3. Create more certainty in the decisions you make.   Not every decision you make will be perfect.  However, there are certain things you can do to make sure that the decisions you do make have a higher probability of success.

  • Don’t force a decision too early just to make a problem go away.  The risk and uncertainty won’t go away just because you make a quick decision.   Look at the risk associated with the decision over time.   Does the risk increase quickly or do you have more time to gather information?  If so, don’t rush into a decision.
  • Let your people be heard.   This is different than just letting them have their say.   Participation by everyone is important to make a good decision.    Let everyone participate in the decision making process and then get buy-in.   Spend time on the decision first.   Then get the buy-in.
  • Create conversations that deal with facts not opinions.   Rumors are not facts, opinions are not allowed.  Facts only.  This creates information flow throughout the company and transparency.
  • Disagree and commit.  Most great decisions are not made with a consensus.  They are usually made with intense debate and disagreement.  However, once the decision is made, commitment to the decision is not optional. Everyone is unified.
  • Minimize the impact of the decision.   Take small steps forward.  Don’t make a decision that if it is wrong, carries a huge impact. Take small steps at your target and adjust.   If you miss, the impact is small.

Don’t let your past failures or fear paralyze you or your organization from making great decisions.  Eliminate fear, surround yourself with great people and create more certainty in the decisions you make.

What other things have you seen great leaders do when it comes to making decisions?  Let me know your thoughts.

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Articles By john-bossong
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What People Are Saying

Karin Hurt  |  31 Aug 2012  |  Reply

love the idea of the cumulative momentum of decisions.

John Bossong  |  31 Aug 2012  |  Reply

Karin,

Thanks for the comment. Momentum is great once that flywheel is started!

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