Decisions are made on a daily basis, and “it almost goes without saying that decision-making is one of the most crucial aspects of leadership.”[i] Some decisions are easy, such as what to wear, or where to go to lunch. But, some are more complex and require deeper thought and strategy. Mistakes are often made along the path to the decision. And, surprisingly, “research shows that how bosses make decisions is just as important as what decisions they make.”[ii] It’s imperative that leaders carefully make a decision. “Making good decisions is a method that must be learned.”[iii] Not all are born with it. Therefore, when it comes to corporate leadership decisions, there are four important steps to follow to ensure a good decision is made.
One of the most important steps in decision-making is to identify the goal associated with the decision. Pinpoint why this decision needs to be made and what problem it will solve. Keeping this in mind while making your decision will start you off on the right track to success.
Gather & Weigh
Before making any decision, it’s imperative to gather all the data that is associated with the problem and the reason for the needed decision. This will paint a more detailed picture on what is needed to solve the problem at hand. “When gathering information it is best to make a list of every possible alternative; even ones that may initially sound silly or seem unrealistic.”[iv] Do not jump to a quick decision. Weigh all options and the opinions of others on your team. Consider the consequences each decision will bring. Think of consequences now and in the future for you and your organization. Gathering information and weighting your options will aid in leading you to the best decision.
Once you have completed the first two steps, you should confidently be able to make a final decision. “Understanding that this step can cause some people a lot of anxiety is important because this is where you have to trust your instincts.”[v] You have done your research, you have weighed your options, and now you have to trust yourself.
This is probably the most important step. Evaluating your decision validates it was the correct one. This step also provides clarification on any changes needed, or further development warranted in the decision. “Always looking for and anticipating unexpected problems will help alleviate undue stress, if and when a problem occurs.”[vi] Sometimes throughout your evaluation process, you may realize you need to jump back a few steps and choose another direction.
Following these four steps will help to simplify your decision-making process. Decisions are often needed promptly, and because of that, things are missed, and the wrong decision can be made. Involve your team and other key decision makers, if necessary. Be transparent throughout the entire process. Transparency builds credibility and trust. As a decision-maker, you want to ensure you have both in your organization.
To summarize, “a significant part of decision making skills is understanding and knowing a simple technique; and also regularly practicing that technique.” Remember to follow the above four simple steps and share results along the way. The path will lead you to a successful final decision.