As organizational leaders or managers we may feel comfortable with the decisions we make. However, it can be helpful to recognize what constitutes “good” decision making, and also the fact that "how" we make decisions is just as important as the decisions themselves!
Research done by the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, listed the following traits as being shared by the best decision makers, who:
- Follow a process (see sample)
- Involve others when appropriate and use knowledge, data and opinions to shape their final decisions
- Know why they chose a particular choice over another
- Are confident in their decisions
- Rarely hesitate after reaching a decision
It is also important to recognize that our decisions are impacted by a wide range of emotions, opinions, and predispositions, as summarized in a past blog post, which leads us to recognizing behaviors that negatively impact our decision-making.
In a Wall Street Journal article, Robert I. Sutton, a professor in the Department of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University and co-author of “Scaling Up Excellence,” shared some interesting and important insight into this aspect of decision-making.
He first explains that, as noted above, how leaders make decisions (the process) is just as important as what decisions they make.
He then shares four specific pitfalls associated with the decision-making process that can compromise a leader’s effectiveness as well as the effectiveness and attitudes of people throughout the organization.
The first of these pitfalls involves telling people they have a voice in decision-making when, in reality, they don’t.
“Good decision-making entails consulting key stakeholders—and using their input to shape final choices,” Sutton said. “Doing so improves the quality of the decisions, and makes employees more motivated to implement them.”
“Unfortunately, in too many cases the consultation of others is only make believe… it starts out looking like the real thing, but in the end leaders are just pretending that others’ input has some influence over the final decision.”
While the motivating force behind the make-believe-consultation can vary — some bosses do it to fool people into getting behind the decision’s implementation, and others because they think the mere opportunity to voice opinions somehow makes people feel better — it doesn’t matter. In the end, pretending to consult others for decision-making purposes and then ignoring their input turns out to be demoralizing. Further, the associated deception and disrespect often causes employees or stakeholders to lose faith in their leaders.
Next on the list is the poor habit some leaders have of “treating final decisions as anything but!”
“Many insecure bosses have a habit that is especially damaging: After a decision has been made and communicated and implementation has begun, their insecurity compels them to revisit the choice too soon and too often. A few complaints, a small early setback, or simply anxiety about the decision can provoke such unnecessary reconsideration.”
Sutton goes on to explain that the insecurity and waffling “infects their teams.” In addition, many of the people involved lose faith in their leaders’ ability to make good decisions, and also lose interest in implementing new directives that could soon become subject to change.
Moving too fast is the third pitfall. While some leaders suffer from indecision and procrastination, some decisions require more careful thought— “especially risky, important and complicated ones that are costly (or even impossible) to reverse,” Sutton says.
Despite the fact that employees most often like working with managers who are confident and don’t waste time, they are also leery of snap decisions, which are likely to turn out wrong. These decisions are also more likely to undermine employees’ faith in their leader and the decision, and can make employees less motivated to implement the decision. It’s the difference between a smart, confident decision and a rash one, possibly made without proper research or without sufficient facts and data.
Finally, using decision-making as a substitute for action is a waste of time.
“A decision by itself changes nothing” says Sutton. Simply “deciding” to change a protocol or process doesn’t help unless someone actually does it!
The gap between “knowing” and “doing” is real, yet too many leaders act as if, once they make a decision, and perhaps spread the word, their work is done.
"Knowledge isn’t power until it is applied."
"Sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you make the decision right."
"If people believe in themselves, it's amazing what they can accomplish."
"People have a way of becoming what you encourage them to be - not what you nag them to be."
"If you're going through hell, keep going."
How to Run the Best Remote Meetings!
Even the most accomplished sellers, presenters, managers, and facilitators must make strategic modifications to their communication style if they are to maximize the effectiveness of virtual forums such as remote meetings and virtual sales presentations.
This e-book provides straightforward best practices that will help you stand out, including:
- Strategic preparation
- Leading the best sessions
- Keeping people engaged
- Interaction strategy
- Ending on a high note!
Recent Newsletter Articles
Is This the Secret to Sales Success?
The Most Important Workplace Skills to Develop
Just before the pandemic hit, Gallup indicated that employee engagement levels across the U.S. had reached an all-time high since they began tracking the metric in 2000; and they shared a straightforward reason why. As it turns out, it's all about development.... Read more.
What We Can Learn from the 250 Best Managed Companies...
The Wall Street Journal recently announced the Drucker Institute’s annual list of the 250 best-managed companies in America. You might be surprised at the list of criteria that is used to compile the list! Read more....
Making Your Value-prop Stronger
As we all know, the acronym T.M.I. stands for “too much information,” and is often used when someone over-shares things of a personal or private nature. As it turns out, it can also apply to how we sell or present. Read more...
Derailed by Details
In a recent post published by makingthenumbers.com, author Jack Falvey suggests getting the business first, then dealing with the details. Good advice for sure! Consider why.... Read more...
An English proverb says, “Cometh the hour, cometh the man.” It’s the idea that the right leaders will emerge or step up during times of crisis. And it’s not just CEO’s or top management, but rather leaders at all levels that must step-up to engage and support their teams during this time of need. The question is, how? Read more...
Well Done v. Well Said
Since many organizations are beginning to make strategic plans for the New Year, it seems an ideal time to reaffirm the fact that “planning” does little good without execution. Or, as Ben Franklin put it, “Well done is better than well said!” One method of improving our ability to execute involves "4Dx," a strategy for putting plans into action... Read more...
How Effective is Your Feedback Style?
A recent Gallup article revealed that only 14.5% of managers strongly agree that they are effective at giving feedback to team members. While we all need feedback in order to grow and develop our skills, if that feedback is ineffectively delivered it can backfire. Read more...
Too many sales people talk too much and listen too little; and these "terrible too's" can sabotage a sales effort in numerous ways! Fortunately, there are some simple solutions... Read more...
The "5th" P
As you may know, these basic principles are commonly referred to as the four “P’s” of marketing: Product, Price, Placement, and Promotion. But there is still one more critical ingredient that will, ultimately, separate your approach from those of your competitors! Read more...
Looking at a familiar phrase from a different perspective, how does your organization's leadership support or impact the selling process? Read more...
Assume the Sale, But Never the Reason
It's the New Year, and time to reflect on how we can improve our sales effort. Successful sales professionals are able to more effectively close sales not because they are silver-tongued or aggressive when it comes to asking for the business, but rather because they are diligent and proficient when it comes to implementing three important things. Read more...