How To Make Better Decisions

How To Make Better Decisions

How To Make Better Decisions

By Mark Wager

A leader is judged by the quality of their decisions. The ability to make the right decision in a timely and decisive manner can be the difference between a team succeeding and a team failing, but how can a leader make the right decision and what is the process that they follow? In this article I look at what a leader needs to consider in order to make the right decisions at the right time.

Remember that not making a decision is still a decision.
"The worst business decision you can make is no decision. The needs are not going to go away. Waiting is what's gotten us in the situation we're in now" - John Peace

One of the most frequent challenges that leaders face is that the consequences of making a decision can be so daunting and difficult that a decision is delayed, and delayed and delayed until circumstances take over and they don't need to make a decision.This is because there's a feeling of discomfort when making a decision so it's very tempting to delay it yet a decision is made whether you make it or not. The solution is very simple, if you don't make a decision then you are not a leader. You may have a title but you certainly aren't leading. If you don't want to make a decision then step aside and let someone else lead.

Go towards what will take you closer to your goal
"Whenever you're making an important decision, first ask if it gets you closer to your goals or further away. If the answer is closer, pull the trigger. If it's further away, make a different choice. Conscious choice making is a critical step in making your dreams a reality" - Jillian Michaels

Effective leaders have a clear understanding of what success looks like including the metrics that will be apparent to illustrate when success has been achieved. This enables the leader to ask themselves the most important question when they are faced with a decision that is what outcome will take them closer to their goal. There are many things to consider when making a decision but the main one is your goal. If you are constantly moving forward then success is no longer an issue of "if you can succeed" and becomes an issue of "when you will succeed".

Does the decision fit in within your values
"The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it" - Norman Schwarzkopf

The next decision that effective leaders ask themselves is if the decision fits in within their personal values and the values of the organisation they work within. This may seem obvious but you would be surprised how many poor decisions are made because of false priorities when either the leader puts their own personal need ahead of the needs of the team or they put the desire for profit ahead of the commitment to values. When this happens there is an example of false economy or short-sighted decision making. If you keep to your values you may lose short-term but you will reap far more benefits going forward. The best leaders are the ones that people trust and believe in.

Consult for information and not for validation
"I assure you that it is our desire and intention to keep the doors of consultation always and fully open. There must never be a final word between friends" - Dwight D. Eisenhower

The most important aspect of any business are the people, it's their performance that determines the future of any organisation so they need to be instrumental in your decision. Leaders consult for information and not for validation, leaders seek out the views of their people not only because they may be Impacted but mainly because of their views and experience. They may see something the leader may easily miss so why take the risk. The more information you can gather the better the quality of your decision.

Find the courage inside your heart
"Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision" - Peter Drucker

Great leaders understand that courage is not the exclusion of fear but the ability to embrace fear. It's ok to be hesitant and even fearful but if you want to be a leader you have to walk towards the fear and embrace it because it's this fear that separates the leader you are now and the leader you have the potential to become. Make a decision and stand by it, the majority of times you will be right but even if you fail, find the lessons in the failure so that any future decision will be better.

Leaders are faced with the dilemma of decisions every day, some small and some big and they approach each and every one of them with logic, courage and humility. If you can achieve that then you will usually make the right decision even if others don't agree at the time they will agree when success is achieved.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Posted: Monday 10 October 2016

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