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How Can a Leader Become More Decisive?

By Perry Holley | May 3, 2023
How Can a Leader Become More Decisive?

Do you struggle when it comes to making timely decisions in your business? Whether you are naturally decisive or not, leaders need to develop a decision-making process aligned with their organization’s goals and values.

In the 360-degree assessments we use in our executive coaching practice, we often see a lack of decisiveness, a leadership skill many leaders struggle with. And we have learned that waiting to make decisions that need to be made now can slow or even kill the momentum you have developed with your business.

What Gets in Your Way?

Looking further into this lack of decisiveness, you can usually count on finding leaders who either received too much information to make the decision or not enough. When too much input is provided, the leader can develop what is commonly known as “paralysis by analysis.” When too little information is provided, leaders can begin to doubt themselves or even fear making mistakes. This often leads to overthinking the decision, which promotes second-guessing.

DEVELOP YOUR DECISIVENESS

Leaders who make decisions promptly and don’t wait for other people or circumstances to dictate their direction have a process and a set of skills that guide them.

Making good decisions starts with having a well-defined problem. Einstein is quoted as having said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.” If you cannot clearly define the problem, you will have a poor chance of deciding how to solve it.

Another skill of great decision-makers is the ability to gather information relevant to the decision. This could include seeking advice or input from trusted sources and leaning on their expertise and experiences.

Additionally, great decision-makers have the ability to evaluate the pros and cons of various alternatives that may be in play. They can assess not only possible alternatives but also the impact of each alternative on the organization and its clients.

DOES INSTINCT PLAY A ROLE?

Some leaders say they make decisions based on instinct and gut feeling. Is this really the case? It might seem that way, but my gut feeling is that these leaders have been immersing themselves in the business, gathering facts, and discussing options with others over an extended period. They have experiences that have been tested over time, so much so that it seems like instinct to them.

TAKING ACTION

Great decision-makers take action. In many cases, when it comes to difficult or complex decisions, they set a deadline for making the decision and a timeline for working through the thought process. When the timeline has been completed, they make the decision. Waiting or delaying the decision often has more negative consequences than making the wrong decision.

THE AFTER-ACTION REVIEW

Great decision-makers always perform an After-Action Review (AAR) of their decisions. This process is not just for the decisions that did not work out well but even for the ones that did. You can learn much from a winning decision and even more from a losing one. Great decision-makers are constantly learning from what they did well and what they could have done better.

About Perry Holley

Perry Holley is a coach and facilitator with Maxwell Leadership, as well as a published author. As co-host of the Maxwell Leadership Executive Leadership Podcast, he has a passion for developing others and seeing people grow into the leaders they were intended to become.

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