One thing every leader does on a regular basis is make decisions.  What are some of the common traps that lead to bad decision making? What are some tips to improve your decision making?  Below are some principles we offer to our clients to improve their decision making.  Improve your decisions, you will improve your leadership, your business and your life.

Traps for bad decision making

1.       Don’t ever make a decision with a broken decision maker:  When you are in a season of life where there is high stress, high conflict and personal performance issues, you should not make many big decisions other than lowering stress, conflict and aligning your life.

2.       Don’t ever make a decision with clarity on desired outcome and core values:  Almost all decisions are bad when they are not congruent with the values that shape your life, leadership or organization.  Avoid at all cost the trap of making a decision that you are not clear on what you want to have happen and how It lines up with your core values.

3.       Don’t make decisions on somebody else’s timeline:  Many people will back you into a corner, create a false sense of urgency and not create enough space to work through your decisions emotionally or intellectually.  Make sure your decisions line up with your sense of timeliness.  It is true, the right decision a moment too late is the wrong decision.  However, bad decisions occur often when the wrong captain is steering the ship.

4.       Don’t jeopardize the long term with the short term:  There are decisions that need to be made that are around short-term survival.  (In other words, you must live to see another day).  You just never want to make a series of short term decisions that are completely disconnected from long-term objectives.

Tips for making great decisions.

1.       The power of advanced decision making:  Have a plan for your day, your week, your month, your year and possibly your decade.  This plan affords you the luxury of advanced decision making.  When this happens this is what I will do!

2.       Have a defined set of core values:  It is a lot easier to make decisions when you know the values you will not sacrifice.

3.       Think fast, Act quick, decide slow!:  When a decision is called for there must be speed in gathering information, look at key data, gather the right people around the right questions.  All of these activities should happen quickly, and this will allow you to slow down the decision making process and protect you from hasty and random decision making.

I recommend you keep a decision making scorecard.  Every month you should list all of the significant decisions you had to make both personally and professionally.  The scorecard should reveal context, options and your decision.  You should leave room for a grade on process and a grade on outcome.  On a monthly basis you can give yourself a grade on how you did at being disciplined in your decision making process.  Every quarter or annually you can grade out your decision making on outcome.  It is important to look at process and outcome.  Of course, a great scorecard should be celebrated.  It is often rewarded with success, but finding a way to reinforce good decision making process and results should be celebrated.

If you are facing a tough decision that has significant consequences, don’t go through it alone.  Please gain the benefit of a “third party perspective”.  Give Awake Consulting & Coaching a call at 407-901-4357, and we can coach you toward some of the best decisions you can make.

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