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July 24, 2014

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Making Hard Decisions

Those of us who are in business know how difficult it can be to make some decisions. Some decisions are easy, but others are very difficult. One of a leader’s duties is to make the hard decisions. Hard decisions involve those in which all the information is not apparent or available as well as those in which emotions run high.

Over the years I’ve found that making decisions where there is limited information is difficult yet pales in comparison to decisions involving personnel, especially when that decision will result in someone losing employment. But as a leader, we have the responsibility to make those decisions, as with all others, in the best interest of the company. Here are some things that have helped me over the years:

Gather as much information as is available. To make the best decision, gather as much information as you can. Get this information from as many sources as available to help balance your perspective. Don’t just rely on what you hold as true – challenge yourself to see the perspectives of others. It is critical that as a leader you balance your thoughts with those of others to be able to see as clear a picture as you can.

Take the time to make a good decision. It does take time to make a good decision. I’ve found that most of the poor decisions I have made have come from not taking the time to let the information settle in long enough to formulate the appropriate course of action. Many young leaders feel the need to make decisions quickly, but I caution that acting too quickly can backfire. Many of us were taught to make quick decisions and in some cases, speed is necessary. But most of the time when dealing with difficult decisions, shooting from the hip rarely yields the best results. Gather the information available, let it settle in to balance your perspective, and then formulate the best approach.

Don’t take forever to make the decision. Even though I advocate taking the time to make a good decision, don’t wait too long. Once you gather the available information, it is time to act. Too often, leaders agonize far too long over an issue. While they wait, little additional information becomes available that will change their way of thinking and further, their process keeps them from dealing with the next issue that needs their attention. Set a reasonable time frame to allow yourself to make a good decision--then make it decisively.

Separate the emotions from the business. I’ve found it very important to remove the feelings and emotions around an issue to allow one to be able to see the situation clearly. Often, people cloud the actual issues with their beliefs and emotions. We all do it, and to make the best decision, we must do our best to remove emotion and bias. When dealing with tough people issues, this can be very difficult, but remember--a leader’s job is to look out for the whole and not any one individual’s needs.

Thoughts for consideration:

  • Do you have a process for making good decisions?
  • How do you gather the information necessary to make good decisions?

Until next time…

Craig

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