GET REAL

Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Prompt decision making crucial to leadership

I caught part of the celebrity version of The Apprentice Sunday night on television. For those of you who may not be familiar with the show, The Apprentice is a reality show produced by Donald Trump (i.e., You’re Fired!). Individuals are charged with leading and/or participating on competing teams to accomplish challenging business projects within a very limited amount of time.

I tuned in soon after professional figure skater and assigned leader, Scott Hamilton, was slow at making a decision as his team floundered to come up with a new marketing strategy for an internet company. It reminded me of how frustrating it can be to work for a leader/manager who is slow—or worse hesitant—at making decisions. 

For some leaders it’s the fear and risk of making wrong decisions that slow their ability to make effective decisions. When you find yourself challenged with a decision, it may help to consider these simple guidelines:

Minimize the risk factor by ensuring that you can answer yes to the following questions—

– Has sufficient data been gathered?

– Have you sought out timely input from potentially affected team members or colleagues?

– Is there true value to the organization (a strong business impact) should the outcome be successful?

– Is the risk manageable should the outcome be less than successful?

– Have you carefully reviewed the data you’ve gathered, along with the value/risk factors?

– Are you paying attention to your gut feelings about the decision? (Read more about How to Get Better at Intuitive Decision Making.)

Again, if you’ve answered yes to these questions, chances are you’ve done your due diligence, and it’s time to make your decision.

One additional safeguard…. If you’re making a decision that clearly is risky, however the business case warrants the risk, you may want to consider acknowledging it upfront with your team, and scheduling follow-up to evaluate interim outcomes and review next steps. 

Strong leaders are respected for making tough decisions promptly. These simple guidelines may help you build your and your team’s trust in your decision-making ability.

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