This week we’re going to talk about a leadership topic that isn’t just a challenge for the heads of companies, but for everyone who works there: making decisions. Here are 5 rules to help you make better decisions:
Don’t make uneducated decisions, but don’t ignore your gut either.
All decisions I make are made based on fact and feeling. Sometimes it’s 90% fact and 10% feeling, other times it’s more 60/40 or 40/60. But I don’t ignore the reality that I don’t know everything, and I take at least a few minutes to research and find out at least the basics of what I have to make a decision on. At the same time, a decision could line up great on paper but if I don’t feel right about it I’ll either ask someone else their thoughts or do a little more research, and then based on that I’ll either go with my gut and not move forward or go ahead with it.
Don’t waste time rehashing the past when what needs to be factored in is the present and future.
The past is an important consideration when making decisions, especially big ones. You don’t want to make the wrong decision, but if you only consider the past you’re missing out on the fact that it’s almost positive that things have changed since the past happened. Maybe we’re not talking extremes like 8 tracks vs mp3’s, but refusing to consider that things have changed and you need to adjust your decision making based on what’s current can make your decision a failure real quick.
Don’t (just) make decisions on popularity.
You’ve probably heard the jokes about lemmings who follow each other off the cliff if that’s the way the leader goes, so we know that what’s popular isn’t always the best decision. That’s not to say that the popular opinion knows nothing or shouldn’t be considered. Popularity shouldn’t be the only reason you make a decision, but it should be a factor.
Don’t make the decision by yourself but don’t try to involve everyone.
I’ve already mentioned bringing in someone when trying to figure out whether to go with gut or fact, but the majority of decisions we make in business affect others, like our employees, our partners, our boards and even our customers. So to make a decision that is major and affects a large number of people should be something that you review with or consult with them on before making the move. You don’t have to ask every last person that would or could be affected, but do check it over or get feedback from a representative sample first. Bringing them a few options is a great way to limit the discussion time and get to making a decision sooner.
Don’t take too long on making decisions.
Ultimately a decision is supposed to be the beginning of action, so if you wait forever while trying to decide what’s right you may miss the window of opportunity. You don’t have to chase down every lead, ask everyone’s opinion, research for weeks or agonize over what your gut tells you. Instead limit yourself to a period of time in proportion with how large or important the decision is.
What decisions will you make and take action on this week?