Day by day in every organization, business leaders are faced with numerous decisions that need to be made. Decision-making is an essential leadership skill in today’s dynamic business environment.
Making decisions can be challenging and difficult as they may involve change, unfavorable reactions, stress, pressure and uncertainty. Successful leaders effectively assess, categorize and respond to decisions in order to deliver exceptional long-term results. Decision-makers need to be able to organize, be driven, to solve problems, to collaborate, and lead to be successful. Leaders can be different and unique across organizations; however, great leaders have common similarities when it comes to decision-making.
The following skills can assist leaders to become more effective decision makers:
· Emotional self-control
Emotions can create fear, anxiety and cloud the judgment of yourself and of those around you when making decisions. When emotion sets in, the brain turns on survival mode, making a decision based on the safest option. This may not necessarily be the right or optimal decision to be taken. Successful leaders learn to manage their emotions so that they are able to strategically look at the bigger picture and comprehend the long-term effect of their decision(s). Learning the skill of emotional self-control can restrict you from blinding your decision and allows you to clearly and calmly lead others to make appropriate decisions.
· Analytical and critical
Leaders will need to be able to breakdown a situation into individual parts in order to comprehend and analyze the true nature of what needs to be decided. This allows you to be able to understand the cause and effect of situations and understand the interconnecting variables that put you in the direction to confidently and intuitively reach the desired outcome. This can be further achieved through comprehensive research and derived from examples implemented in other organizations.
· Self-confidence versus ego
When making a decision, one must be confident in mentally envisioning and analyzing the world around them. One must also have the confidence to stick by their decision, whether it is right or wrong. However, leaders must not mistake self-confidence with ego or self-interest. Decisions made by leaders based on personal agenda or best interests towards certain employees or departments can ultimately lead to bad decisions. In addition, egoist leaders are often unwilling to admit their bad decisions, which may lead to further damage and future mistakes.
· Balance: Be motivational and manage conflicts
Having an ‘open door policy’ will allow your team to feel confident and will encourage them to voice their opinions and points of view. Gaining the trust of your team members will go a long way to help managing conflict. Ultimately, when leaders hear all sides of the picture, they would be able to make better and more informed decisions.
· Experience and past mistakes
Experience and wrong choices made in the past can allow you to master making decisions in any given situation. Overtime, successful decision-making becomes instinctual. With these skills, leaders learn how to make sound decisions that positively impact the organization, clients, employees, shareholders and themselves simultaneously. Leaders who fall short of making mistakes don’t necessarily mean that they are good decision-making leaders. Risk averse leaders fall into this category, as they try and avoid risks or do not make risky decisions. Playing it safe (always) will not really allow them to learn from their mistakes which would allow them to be able to grow and mature as a leader. Effective and successful leaders have made bad decisions and from such have learned to make much better decisions in the future. What sets great leaders apart is their ability to develop, learn and take responsibility from past mistakes, which equips them with the skills to tackle future decisions.
· Ability to make decisions
Expert decision makers make successful leaders. Successful leaders are able to either effectively and concisely make the final decision alone or facilitate and empower their team to strategically reach a conclusion. Successful leaders do this without unsettling the momentum to achieve a decision. Great leaders know how much information is needed to gather to make and process a decision. They are also intuitively equipped with awareness about the importance of utilizing and weighing time efficiently to make a decision.
As the saying goes, ‘life can teach you a lot’. Past experience will mould the character of the leader, which thus will influence the decisions to be made. Once you have learnt the art of being a great leader, effective decision-making behaviors become one that is automatic and instinctual over time. Bad decisions can sometimes be unavoidable, however, what sets great leaders apart from others is that they respond quickly & appropriately, learn, take responsibility and push forward to avoid mistakes in the future.