The Anatomy of Leader Decision Making

leader decision makingAs a leader, decision making is one of your most important responsibilities. Staff members, clients, and your business community rely on your answers. Moving a company forward to reach goals and build prosperity depends on a leader decision-making process. Leader decision making is a blend of art and science and includes a heavy dose of personal intuition along with a sequential analysis.

To aid my business leader colleagues, I suggest this anatomy of leader decision making. It includes 5 components. A decision is a complex concept to unpack with several integral contributing factors. Indeed, there is a distinct composition of a decision, which includes its structural sequence, based on the leader’s guiding principles.

Use Past Experiences

The foundational principle for any decision is the experience the individual brings to the situation.  Experience helps inform a leader when making decisions.  It provides the lens through which to view the situation.  It sets the context.  Past experiences are catalogued in our brains and when we are charged with making a decision, we pull up the past lessons we have learned.  These experiences provide valuable perspectives and contribute toward appropriate choices and successful outcomes.

Identify the Criteria

Leader decision making is an important component for the future success of any organization.  Having a sequence in place in which you objectively evaluate the options for and influences on the decision become an important factor in making successful decisions.  Identify which contributing factors will be used in evaluating the merits of a decision.  Delineate the step by step process.  Also, share the process and evaluating criteria with all involved in the decision before the process begins.  Here’s a resource that you will find helpful: Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work

Reality Check Your Assumptions

When deciding, often leaders fall into the trap of selecting the first reasonable idea that comes along.  However, this may not be the best idea.   Therefore, successful leaders broaden their options, and with more choices to consider, compare the pros and cons.  By considering an opposite point of view, leaders clarify why their decision is appropriate or modify the decision to accommodate perspectives they may not have considered previously.  The goal is to make an informed decision that allows for the best possibility for success.

Know When to Decide

Sometimes leaders keep searching for additional information before making an important decision.  However, this Inaction is itself a form of decision; it’s a decision to maintain the status quo.  It also can be a form of analysis paralysis.   If a previous business strategy is no longer working, it’s time for a change.  However, if resources need to be acquired to support a pending decision, the decision to act may need to wait.  Timing is everything.  Knowing when to move an organization forward with a decision is part of business strategy.  Leader decision making blends both an understanding to the business climate and the mood of the organization’s culture.

Is It Irrevocable—Prepare to Be Wrong

Decisions are easier to make if they are not etched in stone.  In other words, if things go awry, the decision can be changed.  When making decisions that are irrevocable, and there’s no turning back, the pressure is on.  In leader decision making, it always best to think about how you can recover if you find the decision is the wrong decision.  What steps will you take to recover?  The business world is filled with uncertainty.  Things happen unexpectedly, and leaders need to anticipate the unexpected and be prepared to handle these challenges.

Leaders become better at decision making with practice, experience and expertise.  The process should never be taken lightly because the resulting consequences can be monumental.

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