How To Make Tough Decisions

How To Make Tough Decisions

Leadership has its benefits.

It can also become one of the most difficult jobs to have, especially when faced with some of the toughest decisions of your life.

Things like firing someone, downsizing an office, or even canceling a project can increase a leader’s stress tenfold. Not to mention the added turmoil that comes along with it if the decision winds up blowing up in your face.

What’s a leader to do?

Like everything in business, decisions don’t have to be made through gut instinct (although that sometimes helps). Instead, a few simple questions can guide you to not only making a tough decision, but also support the results as well. Ask yourself:

How will this decision effect the people?
A decision is never just about the leader; it ripples down and impacts the entire company. A decision may only effect one person immediately – firing a person, for example – but ultimately it will impact a variety of people throughout the workplace. Consider everyone your decision will touch. Will it improve morale or hurt it? Will it make the office better or worse? How long will it take to implement the decision and who will be a part of the process? The more thought you put into the decision as you are finalizing it, the easier implementation can be.

Who can I trust to help me make this decision?
Every great leader has a strong support system behind him or her. Who can you trust to give you advice? Find people to support you in many different ways. Not every person will be able to provide the same perspective in different situations. But as you lean on people and discover their strengths, don’t be afraid to call upon them to provide you with the details you need to finalize your decision making process. Choose your mentors wisely. Reach out and find support for different aspects of your life. From coaches to friends, mentors and allies, all are important assets in a leader’s Rolodex. Nothing can allow you to make a better decision than knowing you have the right partner by your side, providing you with the right amount of information you’ll need to make an educated decision.

What are the facts? Am I allowing emotions to get in the way?
It’s hard to make decisions when your heart gets in the way. A great leader must learn to separate facts from emotions when finalizing a decision. Emotions can sway an argument. Facts never lie. Gather enough facts about a situation to make a clear judgment call, then use them to support your actions.

Is this the right decision?
Each of us has an internal set of guidelines, morals, that help guide us every day. Sometimes we make decisions based on what we think is right; sometimes we make them based on what we know is right. Who has influenced you to make this decision? Are you implementing it based on orders from top management? Do you feel it’s the right decision for the situation? Don’t just take action based on orders. It’s much easier making a decision and living with the results when you know your actions match your inner judgment.

How can I back my decision?
Once a decision is made, a great leader will have to face his critics. Some will love and support a decision; some will not. Yet once a decision is made, it’s more important than ever to have a clearly defined path – a vision of the future – and stay true to course to move forward and upward. Keep your support system close, and remind people of the ultimate goal throughout the process.


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