Making decisions is a task business leaders at all levels handle on a daily, if not hourly, basis. Yet, when dealing with incomplete or contradictory information, time constraints, or the pressure of knowing that whatever they decide will have a huge impact, decision making is far from routine and can be challenging for even seasoned, top-level leaders.
How Great Leaders Make Decisions
Possessing the ability to make wise decisions quickly in the context of the organization’s culture is a crucial skill. There are seven elements to great decision making that are backed by specific behaviors that I see in outstanding leaders.
I have interviewed hundreds of successful senior executives, managers and leaders through my executive coaching and one of the questions I enjoy asking is, “Identify the best decision you ever made and reflecting back on that decision, why would you say it was your best decision”?
I’ve learned 3 things.
1. Most leaders are very quick to point out that if they had relied on data alone, they would have made a far less effective decision.
2. In general, the more experienced leaders were much more likely to use both their “heart” and “gut” to make a decision.
3. True high-potential and younger “emerging leaders”, who lack the experience and references that help fuel instincts, are very quick to reach out to more experienced stakeholders and leaders to tap into their instincts to help them make the best decisions.
How to Make The Right Decisions in Business
1. Use your “head” to make rational decisions. Collecting, analyzing, and utilizing accurate data from multiple relevant sources and objectively assessing the impact of the alternative decisions.
2. Use your “heart” by listening to yourself. Making decisions that will have wide acceptance and that are aligned with the core values of the organization.
3. Use your “gut” by trusting your instincts. Having a trustworthy gut that instinctively knows the right course of action and being able to effectively remove obstacles that might impede its implementation.
4. Make wise decisions by integrating your head, heart, and gut. Having clear access to your head, heart, and gut so that the decision made will stand the test of scrutiny and time.
5. Understand the organizational culture. Knowing, respecting, and—in most cases—honoring the organization’s expectations regarding how decisions are best made and executed.
6. Honor the organization’s decision-making authority structure. Fully understanding and utilizing the decision-making lines of authority as well as delegating decision making when appropriate and effective.
7. Factor in the context of the decision. Effectively balancing the situation’s many factors for example, time urgency, risk level, and strategic priorities—into the final decision.
So follow these 7 steps the next time you need to make a smart business decision. After all, you’ve got a head, heart and gut…so use them!
John Mattone is the president of JohnMattone Partners, Inc., a global leadership consulting firm. John has been recognized by the prestigious Thinkers50 as one of the world’s leading management thinkers and by Leadership Excellence Magazine as one of the world’s top leadership consultants, speakers and executive coaches. John is the author of seven books, including the best-selling, Talent Leadership: A Proven Method for Identifying and Developing High-Potential Employees (October, 2012) and Intelligent Leadership: What You Need to Know to Unlock Your Full Potential (March, 2013-Foreword by Marshall Goldsmith).
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