How do Leaders make tough decisions?

By |Published On: May 19, 2011|

I read an interesting article today (see http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/05/a_counter-intuitive_approach_t.html).  It’s titled, “A Counter-Intuitive Approach to Making Complex Decisions”.  The article was mis-titled in my opinion though.    The premise of the article is leaders should take a break (the sleep on it theory) prior to making difficult decisions and that this is counter-intuitive.

Certainly many leaders want to make decisions quickly and move on.  However, I believe most people, naturally, want to take a pause (sleep on it) to consider all the facts and explore all options prior to making decisions.

I believe good leaders have a decision making process they follow for every decision – the little ones and the big ones.  In fact, the little decisions are good practice for the big ones.  If I were a researcher, I might consider interviewing great leaders and talk to them about their decision making process.  Since I’m not, I’ll offer my process to you for consideration:

1.  Gather all pertinent facts (ask lots of questions)

2.  Independently verify facts, if possible

3.  Try to remove emotion from the process

4.  Based on facts, identify all reasonable options

5.  Consider consequences (short term and long term) of each option.  Think more than one step ahead here, consider consequences of the consequences.

6.  Take a pause

7.  Reconsider all reasonable options (are there more than you thought of before?)

8.  Select the best option for your organization and stick with it.

Do you have a different process?

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