the ceo magazine, decision making,
Dr. Myranda S. Grahek, President, Leadership Worth Following, LLC.

Leaders are called upon to make a host of decisions every day. Many decisions are made almost reflexively—based upon accumulated experience, knowledge, and even instinct. Negative impacts most often occur when decisions are delayed or not made at all. Occasionally leaders are faced with highly complex decisions where there is no clear-cut solution. The consequences of a good or a poor decision can be significant and felt throughout the company. A wrong decision could have significant, even catastrophic consequences. The key to making good decisions and avoiding big messes begins with implementing an effective decision-making process.

First and foremost, know your goals. What are you trying to accomplish? What will be the impact on your company, employees, customers, and other stakeholders? The answers to these questions serve as your filters for decision-making. They will help you assess the positive and negative potential impacts of your decision. Determine both the short-term and long-term benefits and drawbacks that alternatives will have on your business goals and stakeholders. Weigh the pros and cons of each.

Always ground your decision-making process in relevant information and sound analysis. Is there hard data that can inform your decision? Enlist the help of others affected by the decision, work collaboratively and openly, and ask for any missing critical data that might help you make a more informed and effective decision. Actively seek others’ perspectives, input, and differing opinions. Use the information available to you to inform your analysis and decision.

Leaders must also recognize when there is not enough information to make the absolute best decision. If that’s the case, review what you’ve got, make the most effective decision you can make at that point in time, monitor progress, and amend your plans if the results aren’t what you wanted.

Sometimes we overlook the consequences of not making a decision at all. Sometimes a lack of data or a lack of time to collect it in order to make a sound decision can discourage us from leaning either way. We as leaders must understand that the consequences of not making a decision may be far worse than making a less-than-perfect decision. When in doubt, identify essential issues and focus on what is critical to the company’s success or survival.

Now, before you communicate that decision, review your decision to ensure it meets the following criteria: it reflects a solid understanding of the business and its priorities; it incorporates the analysis of hard data and people’s concerns; it involves the necessary people in the decision-making process; it is based on accurate analysis; and it weighs the pros and cons of alternatives.

About the Author

Myranda S. Grahek, PhD, is President of Leadership Worth Following, LLC (LWF). With LWF since almost its inception, she has led every part of the business; developed innovative intellectual property, assessment processes, and feedback tools; served and led major programs with virtually all of its clients; and facilitates its Advisory Board of Directors. Myranda is a business psychologist and consultant helping clients plan and execute high-impact assessment and development programs closely aligned to the strategic goals of client organizations.


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