Making decisions as a leader can be a difficult thing. It’s difficult for a few reasons. First, leaders are in charge of making the most difficult decisions associated with running a business. Second, your decisions will have a more significant reach, and therefore greater implications, than decisions being made by an individual contributor or low-level employee. It is vital to the performance of your business that you make informed, timely decisions. There are three keys to making decisions that every leader should be aware of.
Begin With the End in Mind
The first step toward effective decision-making is beginning with the end in mind. This idea is one of the seven habits taught by Stephen Covey and its significance can’t be overstated. According to Covey, it is based on the principle that all things are created twice. There is a mental creation first, and then a physical creation second. It’s all about visualization. You need to begin each task with a clear vision of your desired destination. Once you’ve visualized your destination, you can base all your decisions off of that. In the book Alice in Wonderland, The Cheshire Cat had an interaction with Alice that serves as a valuable illustration of this concept.
“Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here? The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where.
The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.
Alice: …So long as I get somewhere.
The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.”
Your mind needs to visualize the destination before you can take productive steps to get there.
Information Precedes Effective Decisions
Next, you need to gather as much information as you can so that you understand the key components of your potential decision. It’s important to gather relevant information. As an example, let’s say this particular decision involves who to assign to an important sales opportunity. Within your company, who has consistently performed the highest in sales? What other responsibilities do the current top sales professionals have that could detract from their success in this role? Does anyone within your organization have an existing relationship with the potential client? All of these things need to be considered when determining who you trust in this role. Individuals that use a more intuitive approach to making decisions would benefit from gathering more information before reaching a decision.
Fail Fast to Succeed Faster
Lastly, you should aim to make your decisions as quick as the situation allows. Some decisions will require a significant amount of your time. Unfortunately, not every decision can be made as quickly as you’d like to, but there is an advantage to making your decisions quickly. The main advantage to making quick decisions is that you will reach your final solution faster if you fail fast throughout the process. Failure is inevitable along the path to success, so failing fast enables you to get to your solution quicker than trying to come up with the perfect solution the first time around. Many individuals, in fact our society generally, too often views failure the wrong way. The prevailing thought in our culture is that failure is to be avoided at all cost. Obviously, it would be ridiculous to seek out failure just for the sake of experiencing failure, but experiencing failure during your course of action is just a necessary part of the success equation. Make your decisions quickly so you can fail fast and get to your solution faster.
Improve these three areas of decision-making and your business will be better off because of it.