Why a decisive leader is a more successful leader

Don’t let ‘analysis paralysis’ keep you from making good decisions

CREDIT: This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on Business News Daily

Leaders who have developed a co-operative approach to decision-making understand that people need to be valued, respected, listened to and involved. This approach translates into better performance for their organisations and it also yields more streamlined results as the inability to make sound decisions means your organisation could suffer greatly, as nothing would ever get done.

An inherent fear of making a mistake is one of the most common reasons that lead to ‘risk aversion, or the inability to move forward with decisions. Another common setback is that many leaders get caught up in ‘analysis paralysis’. This plays out in the form of incessant information-gathering which prolongs the decision-making process.

What is a decisive leader?

A crucial aspect of being a successful leader is the ability to make decisions that are time-sensitive and well-informed. Decisive leaders are those who seek out the appropriate information that is necessary to make a good decision, and they demonstrate an understanding of the knowledge held by their colleagues, direct reports and leaders.

In the workplace, decisiveness is key for effectively executing plans and achieving set goals. Decisive leaders have the ability to balance the costs of continuing to gather information, deliberate and delay a decision versus the cost of making poor choices. They are aware of competing costs, and they weigh them carefully but, most importantly, a decisive leader makes decisions that are clear and final.

The qualities of a decisive leader

Decisiveness isn’t a skill that people, typically, talk about, but it is extremely important to successful leadership. For example, have you ever worked with a leader who could not make up their mind? Someone who was always asking others what they thought, but they never came up with any conclusions themselves? If you have experienced this you understand how frustrating an indecisive leader can be.

Some of the benefits of being a decisive leader for employees and the organisation include:

  • Decisive leaders are responsible and accountable. Decisive leaders take responsibility for the effect their decisions have on the organisation and others, and they are committed to following through on the actions needed to carry out a decision. 

  • They are confident. Decisive leaders deliver their messages with clarity and confidence, which makes it unlikely that others will need to second-guess their decisions. 

  • Once they reach a decision, they are slow to change their minds. Being decisive doesn’t entail being arrogant, stubborn or hasty, it simply means having the ability to make decisions with clarity. Decisive leaders can be slow to change their minds because they trust their instincts.

Being a decisive leader is a highly desirable skill, especially when it comes to running a business. There are very few people who are willing to put their trust in someone who overthinks, and goes back and forth over basic decisions. 

How to be a better collaborative decision-maker

Allocate a specific period of time for adequate analysis of the decision. Assign a deadline for the decision and make the time frame known to your team and at least one confidant or mentor so that you are held accountable to the dates. If you are particularly risk-averse, ask your confidant/mentor to challenge you, and point out when and why you may be holding up the decision-making process.

Encourage feedback from your team, and gain the perspective of various people integral to the business, when possible. Whether this be from HR, marketing, sales, R&D, or operations; these voices may highlight a different perspective which you had not considered. Listen before speaking, and create an environment where feedback is expected and appreciated.

Assign a team, or person, to challenge the status quo, and build this into the process of your monthly meetings. It’s important to have someone play ‘devil’s advocate’ with all major decisions. As this will ensure a well-rounded view during the decision-making process.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, know your impact as a leader and decision-maker. Walk your talk by saying what you mean, and don’t hide behind corporate rhetoric. Get out of the ivory tower, and get involved with other departments and employee projects as often as your schedule allows. Follow the golden rules of engagement with your employees at every level by treating each one with the respect and consideration that they deserve.

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