In 50 DOs for Everyday Leadership* we talk about the importance of making decisions when they are needed. (That would be DO#6 for those of you are are wise to the DOs.) Being decisive is not only a strategic part of the “leader job;” it’s a big part of building trust. The people around you need to know that you’ll be ready to make the right decisions at the right time.
Please note that we didn’t say “make all the decisions all the time.” (For those of you prone to “leadership as dictatorship,” we’ll try to address this in a future posting!)
For some people, decisions don’t come easy. For the decision-challenged, we find these strategies to be helpful:
Fake it til you make it. Instead of labeling yourself as indecisive, replace that internal dialogue with, “I am a decisive person.” (Do NOT follow this by looking in the mirror and saying, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.”)
Solve the right problem. Before making a decision, examine the root cause(s) of the problem by asking 3 “why” questions. A (perhaps overly) simple example: My shower head isn’t powerful enough. Why? It seems to be clogged. Why? The water is hard. Why? My water softener isn’t working properly. Why? No salt.
Get it down on paper. Once you know the root cause, jot down everything you can think of about the problem and possible decision alternatives. Who’s involved, what do others know, what is unknown, how long it’s been happening, etc.
Sleep on it. Don’t expect big AHAs right away. Let your thoughts slowly percolate, preferably overnight. Your brain will continue processing on its own, and you might be surprised at some of the new information you can add 12 hours later.
Keep an open mind. It’s human nature to look for evidence that confirms what our gut is telling us. Consciously seek out opposing opinions and information that contradicts your gut. Your decision will be stronger for it.
Life is uncertain, so don’t wait to know everything. Sometimes you need to leap, even when you can’t pin down all of the facts. If you’ve followed the steps above, you’ll be in much better shape to not only decide, but to deal with the consequences of your decision.
Remember, not deciding is deciding. Enough said.
Have a question or want some input from Humanergy about this topic? Contact us and we’ll get right back to you!
* 50 DOs for Everyday Leadership: Practical Lessons Learned the Hard Way (So You Don’t Have To) was written by Humanergy’s John Barrett, David Wheatley and Lynn Townsend. For more information, check out our website at www.humanergy.com or call us at 269.789.0446.