Ahhh, making tough decisions. Many times I’ve found myself at a crossroads, a situation where the future of my life, team, and company hinged on one tough choice. You’ve likely been there, too: a moment where your decision will ripple across the business, the team, and maybe even the industry. Every leader and CEO faces such moments that test your mettle, judgment, and foresight.
Types of Tough Decisions Leaders Grapple With:
Strategic Shifts: I remember pivoting my company’s core business model. It was daunting. Do you stick with a known quantity or venture into the unknown for greater rewards? Leaders frequently find themselves evaluating the risk vs. reward of significant shifts.
Personnel Changes: Have you ever had to let someone go? It’s heart-wrenching, especially when it’s a valued team member. But at times, such decisions are imperative for the organization’s greater good.
Financial Allocations: Think back to a time you had to cut costs or allocate funds between departments. It’s like choosing between two good friends. Where do you place your bets?
Dealing with Crisis: Think back to the decisions we had to make during the pandemic. When a crisis happens, we must be decisive.
Why the Need to Make These Tough Calls?
Why can’t leaders sidestep or delegate these hard decisions?
Vision: Leaders are the custodians of the organization’s future. They have a bird’s-eye view, making them best placed to guide its course.
Accountability: With the title comes responsibility. When things go awry, the leader’s name is on the line. Decisions, therefore, need to be owned fully.
Empowerment: Often, these decisions empower others in the organization, setting the tone for a proactive, resilient culture.
So, what do you do when you’re faced with such a decision? Recall Steve Jobs’ words: “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”
Actionable Tips for Navigating Decisions:
- Seek Counsel: Engage mentors, peers, or experts in your field. While the final call is yours, their insights can be invaluable.
- Trust Your Instincts: There’s a reason you’re in your role. Trust the instincts and experience that got you there.
- Gather Data and Feedback: In today’s digital age, data is plentiful. Use it. Conduct surveys, seek feedback, and gather as much relevant information as you can. Informed decisions are often better decisions.
- Be Mindful and Stay Grounded: Clarity often comes from a calm mind. In the midst of chaos, take some deep breaths and clear your head. This can help see the bigger picture and make decisions from a place of serenity rather than stress. And then remember your organization’s core values and mission. Let them be your North Star.
- Reflect on Past Decisions: Sometimes, past experiences offer the best insights. Reflect on similar decisions you’ve made before. What worked? What didn’t? Let history be a guide, but not a constraint.
- Make the decision. Leaders have the responsibility to decide. You must be decisive and make the tough calls. Kicking the can down the road doesn’t fix the issue.
Making choices is the essence of being human and a leader.
Question of the Week
“What is something you are working on as a leader?”
I am working on being more realistic about driving results. I tend to be too optimistic about what’s achievable. So, I am making an effort to stay grounded. What does that mean? Pay attention to the data, details, and your employees’ perspectives, and set sensible targets accordingly. Listen to the whole episode for more tips.
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