Making a decision is easy.
Making a good decision is hard.
Making the best decision is hardest of all.
What do you do when faced with a decision? How do you resolve a conflict? What process do you use to reach a wise conclusion?
These are challenges a leader faces daily and should be carefully considered.
What is your process: who and what do you consider when faced with an important decision?
Let’s start with the who. Many are happy to offer their opinions and views. Some of this input can be very useful, but it is important to separate facts, opinions and conjecture. Well-intentioned people can be sincere and still be wrong.
When it comes to who, there are two important groups to potentially consider. The first are people who can provide input based on their role in the decision or experience and familiarity with the problem or challenge. The second are people who have an objective and well developed perspective–wise people who provide good counsel. You can run your problem or conclusion by them to get feedback and a second opinion.
But ultimately leaders draw their own conclusions. While they may well be influenced by others, ultimately they take responsibility for the outcome.
Leaders are responsible and accountable for the conclusion they reach.
Now let’s look at the what: here is a checklist of factors that determine a good decision:
- Facts. Getting the facts is easy, right? Actually, getting the right facts in the right context is very difficult. During Covid-19, highly credentialed epidemiologists interpret the same facts different in the conclusions they read. See #2
- Credibility of sources. Says who? And why? Vet the person or organizations presenting their information as facts. Do they have a self-serving bias?
- Intuition. Coupling informed thinking with your intuition, or gut, introduces emotion which is usually an important consideration. The question is, “Does it feel right?”
- Impact. Even a good decision can have bad impact on some people or groups, Balancing what is best overall when a decision negatively affects others is possibly the hardest part of decision making. Layoffs affect people although sometimes necessary for a company to survive. Replacing a loyal executive is tough on him or her but is important if that person can’t fulfill their responsibilities.
- Ethics. This is the final test. It is about right or wrong. The old saying it true: you can’t do the wrong thing the right way.
- Interpretation. This is the process of combining everything a leader has gathered and making sense of how it all best fits together. Good interpretation means thinking deeply about what you’ve learned and regrettably many rush to reach a conclusion too soon.
- Conclusion. Here’s the kicker: despite your best efforts you won’t get every conclusion or decision right. Leaders are called to do their best, not be clairvoyant nor perfect.
Once you’ve reached a conclusion, or made a decision, how you present it is important. An explanation fo both your information and reasoning will help people accept and support your conclusion. And you’ll be best able to explain when you understand the process you used yourself.
Mark Sanborn is an award winning speaker and Leadership Expert in Residence at High Point University, the Premier Life Skills University. For more information about his work, visit www.marksanborn.com. He also teaches professional speakers and leaders how to increase their messaging and public speaking effectiveness. Learn more here.