Are you asking the right questions?

Decision-Making Challenges

As a leader, what is your decision-making style? How much of your instincts and feelings influence your decision process? It’s worth asking: Leaders who fail to resolve the balance between automatic and analytic decision-making face many challenges. 

I wrote about this in my last post. Whether you recognize it or not, you have two different modes of thought when a decision is required, and each has its place:

  1. An automatic mode, which is more reactive than responsive. It’s based on instinct and feelings when emergency situations can’t wait for much analysis. 
  2. An analytic mode, which is more deliberate and methodical. It allows for (and requires) thorough evaluation of all options and outcomes. 

In my work as a coach, I see decision-making burden many leaders because each choice rules out an alternative. Other courses of action must be abandoned, and their potential outcomes never come to fruition. This can cause hesitation or analysis-paralysis. Leaders are misled into thinking they can hold off making decisions without consequence. But making no decision is in itself a decision, with a separate set of consequences. There’s no escaping it: You always make a decision at every crossroad. 

Uncertainty is another challenge for decision-makers. Conditions are constantly changing, and information may be incomplete. Some data are misinterpreted or misunderstood. Some situations are subject to chance, and unknowns may not be recognized until after a decision is reached. 

Uncertainty can grow stronger when a leader experiences a series of unfortunate decision-related results, compounded by not altering their poor approach to making them. Like a bad habit that doesn’t get addressed and grows worse from repetition, the discomfort of uncertainty takes over, and reversing it gets more difficult the longer it is allowed to go unchecked.

Asking your peer coaching forum for advice can help rid the feeling of uncertainty. By hearing how other leaders have handled similar problems, you gain immediate action applications and gain clarity as you return to face your own situations. 

Experienced leaders know that even a wisely crafted decision, one made with full analysis and care, can go south. There are no guarantees. Yet, decisions must still be made, and leaders must be held accountable. It comes with the territory.

What do you think? What other challenges have you seen, or experienced, with decision-making? I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me here, on Twitter, and on LinkedIn.

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