Effective Decision Making: When Weighing the Options Starts Weighing You Down

Beth Miller |

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Clear, informed decision-making is at the heart of effective leadership. All the choices that a leader makes every day, both big and small, are what determine the organization’s long-term path. But at what point does analyzing the data and weighing the options become so time consuming that the organization ceases to progress at all?

One of the biggest mistakes a leader can make when coming to a decision is getting so bogged down in the details that when the right solution is eventually found—if the right solution is found—the organization’s momentum has been lost.

To be clear, it’s important to make sure your decision is based on research and a sound knowledge of the data. But, if your hemming and hawing over all the different options is beginning to leave your team members frustrated and wondering whether an outcome will ever be reached, you may be making decisions too slowly.

A lot of things affect our decision-making style, from personality to personal experience, but don’t let a tendency to make decisions at a snail-like pace hold you back from reaching your leadership goals. Keep in mind that the pace of business has reached warp speed compared to twenty years ago, and those individuals who can’t or refuse to adapt to this lightning fast ways of doing business will find themselves left behind.

Slow decision-makers: who are they?

If you rely heavily on data and information, you’re at risk of becoming a slow decision-maker. These leaders tend to live for hard data, like metrics, facts and measurements, and soft data, like feelings and the impact on other people. Making a decision without reviewing every bit of data available feels risky to a slow decision-maker. They are driven by how others will feel about the decision and always try to find consensus in the decision-making process.

In the extreme, slow decision-makers risk becoming no decision-makers. They can get mired in the decision-making process to the point where they’re paralyzed by fear of change or a reluctance to let go of the status quo. If working with a team, slow moving leaders mean frustrated colleagues who’d like to move the project forward.

How does slow decision-making impact your performance?

The business world has never been so challenging for slow decision-makers. Rapid-fire communication and continually updating information demand that leaders make decisions as quickly as possibly. Of course, decisions must still be based on a solid foundation of knowledge and research, but leaders that cannot make decisions quickly risk seeing opportunities pass them by—both professionally and personally.

Tips to make good decisions, faster

  1. Is change good? Thoroughly explore all the benefits of making a decision that would create change.
  2. Is the status quo bad? It’s not just changes that are risky. Examine whether or not there are downsides to keeping things they way they are.
  3. Keep control. If losing control of change makes you anxious, investigate ways to keep a handle on things through the change process. 

Making good decisions is critical for any good leader. You don’t need to let slow decision-making hold you back. But at the same time, leaping into a decision too hastily isn’t the solution either. 

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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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