Effective Decision Making: How Fast Is Too Fast?

Beth Miller |

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One of the biggest ongoing challenges you will face as a leader is to make, not only good decisions, but also timely ones – even under pressure, when the stakes are high, or when the outcome is far from certain.

But while there’s no easy protocol that will help you make the right choice every time, there are some common mistakes that can be avoided. One of the biggest blunders leaders fall victim to is making a decision too quickly.

Of course, being able to weigh the options efficiently and come to a timely conclusion is a valued skill in a leader. But, if you find yourself racing through the decision-making process, or, if there have been a few too many times where you’ve come to regret a hasty decision, it may be time to put on the brakes.

Are you moving too quickly? Could your decision-making speed be impacting your leadership potential?

Fast decision-makers: who are they?

The hallmark of the hasty decision-maker is coming to conclusions without enough information. These decisions-makers don’t like lots of data and want to get to the end result as quickly as possible. Therefore, if the decision won’t have a big impact on them or their work, they feel the details are just getting in the way. Change doesn’t stress them out, so they’re often oblivious to its impact on others.

How does fast decision-making impact your performance?

Fast decision-makers run the risk of making poor decisions that could come back to haunt both them and their colleagues. They tend to like change, but often create stress for team-members who aren’t so open to it. As they focus on the end result, they may shut other team members out of the decision-making process, thereby limiting innovation and creativity. They can also be viewed as autocratic when they’re unwilling to listen to the ideas of other team members or to sift though information that might help the overall decision-making process.

Tips to slow down decisions

  1. Decide on data. Determine up front all the information needed to make an informed decision and get agreement from all team members.
  2. Use your data-lovers. There will always be those who thrive on spreadsheets and databases. Put their expertise to good use and let them comb through the data.
  3. Ask questions. You don’t have to incorporate every idea, but listening to all of your team members will ensure a better decision in the end.
  4. Value your slow decision makers. Check in with them about how they feel regarding the project’s process and progress. Make sure all team members feel included in the process and have an opportunity to add their input. 

Making a decision too slowly can be just as damaging to your success as a leader.  Be aware of the dangers of getting bogged down in detail. A lot of things go into how we make decisions, from personal experience to personality. But good decision making skills can be learned. Don’t let a tendency to rush things hold you back.

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Beth Miller

Beth Miller

Beth Armknecht Miller’s passion for learning, and dedication to helping others, are strands woven throughout her distinguished career, which continue to guide her work with Executive Velocity, a top talent and leadership development advisory firm. As a trusted executive consultant, Vistage Chair, and committed volunteer, Beth holds herself to a rigorous standard of excellence, and she encourages her clients to do the same when pursuing their goals.

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