February 2023 Leader Letter

Decisions, Better Decisions

Need pointers on quick-thinking, decision-making skills? They're already within you!

By Renée Covino

Illustration of four people at a holiday party

The funny thing about advice on decision making—there is often little time for a checklist in the moment; even more often, several decisions must be made in tandem. Looking up to the sky and thinking, “what were those tips again?” humorously defeats the purpose. And yet, leaders who learn the art of decision-making are more likely to become emotionally intelligent, less anxious, and well respected.

So how do you get there? Consider that several necessary skills are already within you as leadership practices. You don't need to memorize them, just reach inside and identify with them:

  1. Trust your gut. It's a cliché for a reason: it works. If you have an immediate instinct as a leader, learn to trust it more often than not. Second-guessing and overthinking can sometimes paralyze otherwise good leaders.
  2. Know you'll learn from mistakes. Successful leaders resort to information gathering up to a point; they use it (often coupled with their instincts) to make a sound decision, then they move forward. Recognize that some of the best decision-making lessons are learned from previous mistakes.
  3. Ask your mentors. If you get stuck, consult with the people you look up to, preferably those from another company or club. You already have their email addresses and phone numbers, send them a message (along the lines of “what would you do?”) asking for a quick reply. You will feel more confident when they agree; they will cause you appropriate pause when they don't.
  4. Ask your team. Where applicable, (for example, when making a choice between several options), call a meeting and get the input of your team. Go around the table and let each person name a single option, briefly explaining why they chose it. Almost like a jury, try to reach a unanimous vote. But if you can't get there, ninety percent agreement will often steer you to make the right decision.
  5. Give yourself a deadline. Decision deadlines are important. Before the end of the day, at the end of the meeting, and by the end of the week are all good ones because they establish a sense of urgency. Remember that “paralysis by over-analysis” can lead to making bad decisions. Force yourself to decide more quickly and it will become an improved skill, a natural strength.

Additional Resources:

Can't Decide?

5 Keys to Delegation Mastery

Connecting the Dots From Goals to Purpose

Reframe Your Life in 5 Seconds