That’s about the number of decisions research says we make each day. Many decisions we make with almost no effort while others call for risk analysis and careful consideration. That’s where some of us get stuck, especially in the workplace.
The success of an organisation can hinge on quality decision-making. While bold, decisive leaders instill confidence in their teams, those who struggle with indecision will find it hard to win trust and lead.
If the below points strike a chord, you could be struggling with indecisiveness as a leader-
- Important decisions take a long time to make because you’re stressing over the outcome
- You get stuck in the ‘make everyone happy’ loop of continuous input and feedback without actually moving forward
- You don’t feel empowered when it comes to making big, bold calls
Moving from an uncertain mindset plagued with indecision to a bold, decisive leader can take time but it’s worth learning this valuable skill. We’ve put together a few techniques you can use to improve your decision-making process.
Decide to decide
It’s all too easy to put off making those big calls and hard decisions. We might throw ourselves into other ‘busy’ work but really, we’re just procrastinating on making a bold decision.
So, the first thing you can do to become a better decision maker is to decide to decide.
Pick a date, commit to making the decision by that date and flag it in your diary; don’t give yourself too much time so you put the pressure on yourself to get it done.
If you already have a deadline imposed by other stakeholders, fake your own decision deadline and bring it forward. This will get you into action sooner and stop you leaving important decisions to the last minute.
Look at the problem differently
When we’ve spent too long agonising over the same situation at a loss on how to move forward, we tend to slip into tunnel vision; emphasising one aspect while neglecting others.
Step back and look at the problem in a bigger context and try it from various perspectives. Write down 3 – 4 ways of looking at it differently or ask for input from your team.
Be open-minded but trust your instincts – don’t get sucked into that endless loop of feedback!
Get the facts
If you don’t have the right information it’s not surprising you’d be hesitant and unsure rather than bold and precise in your decision making.
Call in the relevant people to figure out what key information you need to reach a decision and why. Avoid the opposite problem – analysis paralysis – by setting a clear time timeline for decision making and gathering facts, figures, data, and evidence.
Beyond a point, more data analysis doesn’t mean a better decision is made – just a slower one.
Move on from past failures
Stressing over the disappointing results of past decisions will hold you back from making the next one. Even the best leaders make mistakes and failure is an inescapable part of success; that thought might not be comforting when you feel like you’ve been crushed, but it’s true.
It can be really helpful to look at the failures of mentors and others you admire professionally (or personally!) to know you’re in good company. Those failures didn’t stop them moving forward and making bold decisions that shaped their incredible careers and made them dynamite leaders.
Failure happens. Learn from it and use those lessons to make your next decision a better one.
Write out your fears
“What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.” ― Timothy Ferriss
We’ve taken a cue from best-selling author and early stage tech investor Tim Ferriss on this one. His hugely popular TED Talk, Why You Should Define Your Fears Instead Of Your Goals, highlights how actually writing out the worst case outcome for decisions can help you thrive in a high-stress environment.
If you’re afraid to make a bold decision because you fear what may go wrong, get your fears down on paper. Then write out what your options would be if your worst-case scenario materialised.
Once you get the vague feelings of fear out of your head and clearly defined on paper, you’ll probably see one wrong decision won’t be the end of the world. Even if it did happen, you’ve got a few action steps already lined up you could take to get things back on track.
Write out your best-case scenario too. Reading over what you stand to lose if you don’t make a bold decision can really get you into action!
Let go of perfection
Trying to make the perfect decision will hold you back from making one at all. Or, cause you to bounce back and forth between half-baked decisions without seeing any through.
Constantly moving the goal posts because you can’t make up your mind is incredibly frustrating for your team. They’ll lose faith in your judgement and become demotivated and confused by the ever-changing direction.
Perfect is impossible and sometimes good enough, is enough. Move forward and see the decision through far enough to make a smart evaluation – based on data, not a whim – if the direction is still working.
It takes courage to be a bold, precise decision maker. Leaders who stall, hedge their bets or fail to take a stand will quickly lose credibility and the respect of their teams. If bold decision making doesn’t come naturally, take heart, it’s a skill you can learn and one worth committing to.
Do you consider yourself a bold decision maker or an indecisive one? What types of decisions do you struggle with?