Learn how to make better decisions

Succesful decision-making

As leader, you constantly have to make decisions. But decision-making is not only a critical leadership skill, because of it’s frequency; the quality and timeliness of your decisions have profound impact on the work performance and well-being of others - whether it’s tough prioritization when everything seems important or employees requesting additional resources when they are scarce.

So, how do you make good and timely decisions? Let’s look at a decision tool with three kinds of decision-making. The tool as called DID.

In directive decision-making, you just tell your team what to do, and that’s that. At the other end of the continuum is delegative decision-making. To some extent, this term is a contradiction, as it means that you let someone else make the decision. In the middle, we find informed decision-making. In this, you involve others in the decision. However, ultimately you will make the final call.

Let’s look at each of these:

Directive

Directive decision-making is where leaders make decisions without consulting others. This can be an effective style, especially when things are moving quickly and the team is looking for immediate guidance and direction. This is where you have to be able to make a quick decision. You must trust the information you have, even when it’s incomplete.

The urgency of the decision simply outweighs the need for qualifying it. Note that too often, leaders are presented with false emergencies. So, be critical in evaluating the urgency needed for making the decision.

Directive decision-making will also be important when new or inexperienced employees are in need of clear guidance. Thus, making the decision for such an employee can be exactly the thing needed to let her grow into the job.

Informed

Informed decision-making is just what it sounds like. Leaders gather information by requesting feedback and insight from higher management, experts, and most importantly their teams. The leader still makes the final call, but now has the proper data to make a more informed decision.

Here the importance of a decision and its future impact makes the decision’s quality outweigh its urgency and the time it takes to get to it.

Involving others is important for decision quality because our decision processes are not always as sound as we might imagine. Emotions and thought patterns constrain us all. Even the decisions of the most skilled leaders are distorted by their present state and current situation. Consequently, we often end up basing our decisions on something that is incorrect or incomplete. Thus, whenever possible take the time to step out of the current situation and add other perspectives.

When gathering information for important decisions, avoid surrounding yourself with people who always agree with you. You need insights from people who are able to argue the other side strongly. 

Learn how to become a better listener

Delegative

When surrounded by trusted peers and competent employees, sometimes the best decision a leader can make is not to be the one to make a certain decision. Delegating decisions has many important benefits, such as empowering your employees and building their decision-making abilities.

Delegation also releases you from tasks you - as a manager - should no longer be doing - and it gives you time for your managerial responsibilities in return.

In addition, delegative decision-making is a great way to avoid the decision trap of “we’ve always done it this way.” New decision makers take fresh approaches to solving problems.

In conclusion, make sure to make directive decisions when time is truly of the essence. And support your inexperienced employees with clear directives as needed.

However, be careful not to let false emergencies, your biases, or the need to appear decisive deprive you from making informed collaborative decisions.

With your self-directed and capable employees who are ready to take on more responsibility and authority, delegate decisions to them - also important ones.

Lastly, remember the acronym DID to quickly evaluate if your decision should be directive, informed or delegated.

Download our free Decision-Making Quiz and DID video to learn more about how you can make better decisions:

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Tags: leadership development, decision making