Have you given much thought to what guides your personal decision making? Is it mostly “gut feel?” Do you consistently use “consensus” to get buy-in? Is emotion perhaps too often driving your decisions? My guess is whatever you are doing is, for the most part, working for you. Otherwise, you would not be where you are today. Nonetheless, I invite you to reflect this week on how you might go to the next level in your decision making with some basic principles from this blog posting in the "Let's Grow Leaders" blog: 5 Secrets to Effective Decision Making. I summarize the high points with my own thoughts below:
1. Be crystal clear on your values. This is why your personal leadership philosophy is so important and why it is always the foundation of all of our leadership programs. Know what you believe and why, what you value, what are your priorities, etc. In fact, knowing these things is step #1. Writing them down and sharing them with others is step #2. The all-important and critical step #3 is asking people to hold you accountable for living that philosophy. We believe this step will help ensure you make good decisions and “walk the talk” as a leader!
2. Insist that people on your team make decisions they should make. Delegate…and don’t take it back! Resist the temptation to solve problems you could do with ease and let others learn through their own decision making opportunities. Hold them accountable and use those opportunities to help others learn from the outcome, whether good or bad. Don’t use setbacks to pull back decision making authority. Use them to learn key lessons, talk about risk and how to manage it, and set the conditions for future decision making success.
3. Make low-risk decisions quickly. Even better, see #2 above. Quite likely, many of you don’t even need to be making some of the decisions you make. Don’t clog the system, and your limited time and decision making capacity, with things that can either be decided and move on…or decided by others. Whichever route you go, make it quick!
4. Make decisions once. I love the way Lencioni describes it in “The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team.” Invite healthy debate. Get everyone’s opinion on the table to shape the best possible decision. Go around the room and let people know to “speak now or forever hold your peace,” that you are about to make a decision. Then…make it. “Here is my decision….” Clarity and closure! Done…move on. Of course, if conditions change, that is always cause to look again. But in most occasions, where the conditions are the same, don’t reopen that door!
5. Include the right players. Whenever possible, get alternative and diverse opinions around the table. As in #4 above, encourage…no, demand healthy debate. Doing so not only ensures buy-in going forward but…will generally lead to better decisions. Yes, there is a time and place for a “command decision.” But, take it from the “Colonel,” those are generally few and far between. Most of our decisions are ripe for discussion. Look for diversity around your decision making table. Bring in your customers and those who will be impacted by the decision to have a vote, where appropriate.
OK. Now, these aren’t Secrets anymore. Get out there and, as our Moms used to tell us kids, “Make good choices!” Let me know if I can help with any pending decisions (see #5 above) or with any of your leadership development needs! Lead the Way. That's Leader Business!