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When You’re Calling the Shots

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How leaders make stress-free decisions.

Somewhere along the line, someone probably advised you never to make snap decisions. When faced with a difficult choice, we are cautioned to “give it some thought,” or to “mull it over,” or to “sleep on it.”

That may be good advice, but it’s not very practical. In a perfect world, you would have all the time you need to make every decision. In today’s world, however, many decisions must be made quickly, based only on the best information currently available.

“Fact is, leaders seldom have all the information we want or need to make a perfectly safe decision,” observed McKesson CEO David Mahoney. “If we did, it wouldn’t be a leadership decision, it would be a foregone conclusion.”

When you do have to make fast decisions, here are three reminders that can help:

1) Turn to your values. 

If your decision is consistent with your personal and company values, your snap decisions will tend to be right most of the time.

2) Listen to your gut. 

Your instincts and intuition are valuable guides;  they are trying to tell you something smart and valuable. All things being equal, go ahead and trust that little voice in your head.

3) Be ready to course correct. 

When the moment comes, be fearless in your decision-making, knowing that if you do make the wrong decision, you can usually circle back and make some necessary adjustments.

If you’re in a management or leadership role, help your team members learn to be decisive too. Whenever you are faced with a decision, ask yourself if someone on your team can make that decision with you or for you.  Delegating decisions will enable your teammates or staff to create the habit of making decisions that are in alignment with your company culture and values.

And remember: When it comes to making decisions, no one can claim a perfect record. If you and your team make correct decisions 51% of the time, you are in the company of some world-class organizations.

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