Even the most uncomplicated questions force us to make a decision—soup or salad? white or wheat? We’re dealing with an enormity of decisions every day, similar to what’s going on at our desks and offices. So when we meet the fork in the road, which way do we turn?
I have a new project coming down the pike from management: do I take it on or assign it to another team? I need to build my quarterly forecast: do I increase or decrease my budget? I need to consider developing a new strategy: do I take some risks or run the course? Decisions, like these, are the ones that have the power to set the trajectory of an organization for the long term, make or break the quarter, and build or destroy the brand.
Peter Drucker said,
“Wherever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.”
Questions, without answers, and more importantly, action, have their consequences. There is a gut reaction or there is a deliberate response. So, what card are you going to play? Are you going to labor over the data to try to make a judicious decision? Or are you going to make a command decision, built on the instinct and gumption it takes to make a difference?
The art of decision making is fairly formulaic. It’s basic—facts, options, and outcomes. But you have to make the decision. As an executive, team member, or support staff, the clock is ticking and decision making must become second nature—without hesitation. You’re going to be judged in the boardroom, at the roundtable, or in the conference room by your inherent ability to “do something.” A decision maker who plays the alpha role will sit atop the mountain as a thought-leader and go-to-person when the organization has its back against the wall.
A talented, astute decision maker is not a characteristic one is always born with, yet there are the fortunate who carry the trait in their DNA. For others, not all is lost because behaviors can always be learned.
Staying within your lane until you’re ready to accelerate requires a self-awareness of your skillset. Crawl before you walk, walk before you run—because in business the stakes are high.
The ability to have self and situational awareness places you in a position of power and dominance. Being able to make a prompt decision to refer to a superior, a subject matter expert, or even a committee because the situation is out of one’s wheel house exemplifies leadership and creates forward motion for you to become the subject matter expert.
John Peace, chairman of Burberry said,
“The worst business decision you can make is no decision. The needs are not going to go away. Waiting is what’s gotten us in the situation we’re in now.”
Remember, know your limits, and if you need help, ask for it. But you must act.