Have you ever heard it said “if you do not make a decision, you have still made one?”  One of the keys to great leadership is the ability to make clear decisions in a timely manner.  Not to do so causes confusion in the ranks and leaves forward motion to flounder.  In this week’s Power Idea, our CEO, Jerry Houston, spends some time on this important issue.  It’s time to take action!

I love the quote about decision-making that comes right from our management development course module by this same name, “decision is a sharp knife that cuts clean and straight; indecision is a dull one that hacks and tears and leaves ragged edges behind.”

One of your key responsibilities as a leader is to make decisions.  Did you know that not making a decision is still a decision?  Decisions come down to making a judgment.  It is a choice between different alternatives.  One of the most critical issues in the business world is the lack of quick and effective decision-making and it can paralyze an organization.

Presuming what I am telling you is the truth, why is it that more leaders procrastinate and do not make timely and effective decisions?  A key ingredient to this conundrum is a lack of COURAGE.  Remember the cowardly lion from the Wizard of Oz?  Remember how he frequently lived in fear and was paralyzed by a lack of decision-making?  Courage is an everyday issue.  Developing courage and confidence will lead to a level of decision-making that will ensure long-term leadership success.

The principles of decision-making are clear cut and understanding these basic tenets will dramatically reduce fear and hesitation when making decisions.

  1. Recognize that a problem exists. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But, sometimes we stick our heads in the sand and hope that the problem or issue will go away…it does not…and sometimes it gets worse.
  2. Define the problem. In continuous quality improvement, this is called getting to the root cause.  What is the REAL cause of the problem?  This is a critical question to answer before you try to develop a solution.
  3. Identify possible causes of the problem. Don’t be afraid to use the five “W’s” of Who, What, When, Where and Why.  This will help you to discover possible causes and determine the real problem.  Remember not to look for blame, because that causes others to be unwilling to help if they think they will “get in trouble.”
  4. Seek a series of alternative solutions. Identifying a number of different possible solutions will help you be more open-minded in the different ways that a problem can be solved.  As my brother always says, “when we are all wrong together, we are still right!”  While that may not be exactly true, you get the idea.  Think how powerful this is if your selected solution doesn’t work.  You are ready with a second plan very quickly.
  5. Choose the solution you think is best. It’s time for a decision!  Which alternative do you think will work best?  Choose it and support it!  Your effectiveness of your decisions will increase relative to your open-mindedness to other ideas.
  6. Share your decision. It’s time for action.  Communicate your decision and why you made it. Thank others for their input and their support now that the decision is made.
  7. Inspect the decision. The whole idea around making decisions is getting to the right actions and the right results.  Be sure to step back and measure the success of the decision and don’t be so territorial that you are unwilling to adjust the decision if it isn’t working fully.

Decision-making doesn’t have to be a difficult hill to climb.  Break it down in its parts and move through them in the order I have suggested in this article.  You will be surprised at the results and feel much more confident about the decisions you need to make as a leader every day.

Have a Great Week!

At HPISolutions, we believe in the unlimited potential of people and their organizations.  Contact us for a free consultation at info@hpisolutions.com.