The “Right” Decision
It is said that the average adult makes more than 35,000 decisions each day.
No wonder sometimes it feels like even the simple decisions, like what to wear or eat, can stump us. Our brain is begging for mercy.
Have you ever stopped and thought about what is a decision? A decision is not a choice – even though those words are used interchangeably. A choice is the right, power, and opportunity to choose. A decision is when you have made up your mind and have chosen. If you have a choice, you have options, whereas a decision removes options.
According to a 10-year HBR study of more than 27,000 leaders, 57% reported that decisions are more complicated and difficult than they expected.
We are living through a rapidly changing workforce, pandemic, and fluctuating economy. We are juggling threats and opportunities in our work and personal lives. It’s enough to sometimes just want to run away or hide under a pile of blanket.
As leaders, we can’t outrun or hide from the decisions that need to be made. So, get out from under those blankets and let’s figure out why leaders sometimes avoid making decisions.
- Leaders have a desire to be kind. Well, here is your ear-worm for the day. “You gotta be cruel to be kind, in the right measure.” It’s good to want to be kind (and no need to be cruel). However, if you are putting off a decision because you want to avoid coming across as cruel, you will probably end up causing confusion and pain in the long run. One of our favorite quotes is “clear is kind.”
- Leaders can be hyper-focused on making the absolute best decision. This means delaying to gather more and more information. We all respect informed decisions, but it is the job of the leader to act. When we continuously delay in order to gather more information, we are acting on our fear of failure. This can stifle a culture of creativity and appropriate risk-taking.
- Leaders want to be fair. Being fair is important, but if the desire for equity is distracting from the decision that needs to be made, there will be mixed messages and lack of direction.
- Leaders want to be in control. However, if avoiding decisions to maintain control leads to loss of trust and team complacency
Doing it Better
We would all like to make the perfect decision at the perfect time with everyone’s best interest in mind. However, our efforts to do so leads to time delays, stress, and burnout.
Here are a few tips to guide you through some of those tough decisions:
- Give yourself a deadline.
- Decide a finite number of how many pieces of information is enough to make the decision.
- Gather support and feedback from people you trust and people who have a different perspective.
As you are processing what your decision should be, stay focused on what needs to be solved, what needs to be clarified, what needs to be considered, and who does this impact. Sometimes we make the right decision, but even better is making the decision right.
We have so many decisions to make each day. Many are automatic or inconsequential. However, some have notable stakes and impact important areas of our lives and work. We need a process to help us with those more weighty decisions. The next time you are faced with a decision that feels a bit overwhelming, we hope that you give these steps a try.