Decisions, decisions

Decision making is one of the most significant roles of a leader. It can also be the most daunting. Many decisions you’ll need to make will be easy, but you need to be prepared for those that are much more challenging.

If a decision is proving difficult it is likely that one or more of the following factors is at play:

• not all of the facts are known,
• there are many interrelated factors,
• the impact is likely to be significant,
• there are many options,
• there are many people involved with differing viewpoints.

You may approach a decision from either a reasoned or an intuitive process. Both have their advantages. Gut feel is based on past learning and experience which can offer very useful data. But as our perceptions can be distorted, if the decision is significant implications check you’ve considerd from a reasoned perspective too.

Reasoned decisions are based on facts and evidence. They can ignore emotional aspects however and many decisions require a ‘hearts and minds’ approach. Looking at an issue through reasoned and intuitive lenses in turn will help to ensure that the facts are considered without ignoring how it feels. Awareness of your Myers Briggs ‘type’ will help you understand which process you are more likely to follow.

Effective decision making can be hampered by a number of factors: too little or too much information (ever had choice paralysis?), hidden agendas, too many or not the right people, or emotional attachments. A structured approach to decision making will help you address these issues and ensure all the critical elements needed to reach the best decision are considered.

1. Create the right environment, and involve the right people
2. Gather all the facts and data
3. Identify the options and explore each one in turn
4. Choose the preferred option
5. Test the preferred option with stakeholders
6. Take action