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Decision-making 101

Leaders can't avoid decisions, but they can improve how they think through them.

2 min read



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Executives are hired to make decisions. As such, it’s a topic worthy of study.

Evaluate your assumptions. Before you can move ahead, you need to know where you stand. What is prompting you to make a decision? What is the basis for your thinking?

Consider the alternatives. Knowing your assumptions, what choices do you have? Why would you pursue those choices? Sometimes there are not good alternatives. For example, shutting down a plant or laying off people. Neither is good, but one solution might be better for the health of the organization.

Game-plan the possibilities. When time permits, you can narrow your options to one, two or three choices. Consider what happens in each instance. It’s a bit like stacking dominoes.

Make a decision. Leaders are judged by their decisiveness. When an executive wavers over a major decision, the organization remains in stasis. Nothing happens. Therefore, a leader must choose what do it and why to do it. Next, the leader must communicate that decision widely so everyone knows what happens next.

Only the future will determine if a decision made today was the best choice, but when a leader makes time to think, that is all you can ask.

John Baldoni is an internationally recognized leadership educator and executive coach. In 2018, Trust Across America honored him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in Trust. Also in 2018, named Baldoni a Top 100 Leadership Speaker. Global Gurus ranked him No. 22 on its list of top 30 global experts, a list he has been on since 2007. In 2014, named Baldoni to its list of top 50 leadership experts. He is the author of more than a dozen books, including his newest, “MOXIE: The Secret to Bold and Gutsy Leadership.”

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