Strong leaders are pros at effective decision-making. As a leader within your organization, you are the captain of your team — the Jean-Luc Picard, if you will. Together, you and your team face challenges and choices, both monumental and minute. You work through every detail to arrive at a final decision to save the day and inspire a sense of confidence within your team.
With all the challenges and choices that come our way, most of us don’t want to deal with the consequences that follow a “wrong” decision. For some people, going in the wrong direction is a real fear.
It’s a fear capable of crippling the decision-making process while bringing progress to a standstill. There are leaders who worry that one bad decision will cascade into another, resulting in disaster for their team or the company as a whole.
For these leaders — and you might count yourself among them — gaining control over this fear can be immensely beneficial. To that end, here are three practices you can put to work to become not only a more effective leader, but an effective decision-making master.
Make decisions measurable.
Say you want to accomplish something that has a positive influence within your business. Do you have a system in place to measure the progress and success? Maybe you’re focused on growth, bringing in new customers, establishing new team member benefits, or upgrading equipment.
Metrics make the difference. They allow you to track and reference most, if not all, of your systems and initiatives. Track the progress of all ongoing projects, customer interactions, time spent on work, visitors to each landing page on your website — you name it. If something exists within your organization, you can track it.
Consider tools such as Google Analytics, Geckoboard, Grow, or HubSpot — just to name a few. Even Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets can be effective tracking tools with the right (and consistently tracked) information. This gives you critical data you can use for effective decision-making. With this data you can more effectively make course corrections along the way to arrive at a confident decision.
Avoid the trap of overthinking.
Spending too much time thinking about a single business decision can be deadly. You risk falling into the habit of overthinking every decision you make, including the small or insignificant stuff. When you overthink a decision, your team notices.
The people around you notice when you take an unusual amount of time to arrive at a conclusion or when you re-evaluate outcomes you may have already discussed or dismissed. Overthinking the path forward can leave you stuck on a circular route with no way out. These details call into question your confidence and ability as a leader.
While some decisions are truly difficult, it’s up to you to push away the elements contributing to your over-thinking. If you are too emotionally involved in the process or outcome, focus on the hard data related to the decision — the metrics or previous results. Do what you can to look at the situation dispassionately. Or if that’s not enough, take some of the weight off of your shoulders — share the decision-making process with colleagues.
Consult with your team.
Don’t let the burden of a decision fall solely on your shoulders if it isn’t necessary. More often than not, you’ll end up running your ideas in circles. When you need fresh ideas or a new perspective, don’t hesitate to take your thoughts to the group of professionals you trust the most.
When you take the decision out of your head and verbalize it (or sketch it out on a whiteboard) with your team, it’s easier to work through the kinks or dilemmas. Share or write down all aspects of a decision and invite discussion.
You’ll gain new insight and you may discover a decision that once sounded like the right thing to do actually comes with unintended consequences you missed the first time around. The difference is, you now have the perspective to either improve it or scrap it and start over.
Make it so.
Ultimately, and as a leader, you need to confidently face the consequences of every decision you make. You are accountable. Strong leaders turn both bad and good decisions into learning experiences. Your team is counting on you to make meaningful choices and stand behind those choices so — together — your team can prosper and boldly go where no one has gone before.