When you’re the leader, you have to keep things moving. To avoid being the bottleneck that slows your team’s work to a crawl, you need to make decisions on a timely basis. In a fast-paced environment, it can be hard to gather all the information you’d like to have when making important decisions. That can definitely affect your confidence in making the tough calls.
The fact is that no one ever has one hundred percent of the information they’d like to have when making important decisions. There are just too many variables and unknowns. If you’re waiting for all the information, you’ll never make a decision. Making the call with a sense of grounded confidence is an essential component of successfully leading at the next level.
Here, then, are three ways to build your confidence in making timely decisions.
First, prep and learn. What I mean by that is start doing the homework you need to do to prepare yourself for decision making. Learn all you can about your operating environment. To do that, conduct discovery conversations with knowledgeable colleagues. Talk with them about the patterns they’re seeing in your competitive space. Ask them to share the criteria they consider when they’re making important decisions. Read and absorb all you can about your field. Pay special attention to real life case studies of key decisions and how they played out. Take time to step back and connect the dots among the different insights you’re gleaning from your reading and conversations.
Second, test and learn. There are very few decisions – almost none really – where you have to game out the next 100 steps. Most decisions are about identifying next steps. As much as possible, frame those decisions in a way that allows you to test and learn while you move forward. If you make meaningful but incremental next step decisions you usually won’t get extended so far out on a limb that you can’t course correct after implementation.
Third, trust your gut. Even if this is the biggest decision you’ve made so far, this isn’t your first rodeo. There’s a reason you’re here and are making the tough calls. You’ve had a track record of success and the people who selected you for this role view that past performance as a predictor of your future performance. You’ve made other challenging decisions in the past even if they weren’t the same decisions you’re making today. Since you’ve developed some good judgment along the way, you have a reason to trust your gut now. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prep and learn or test and learn. It does mean that you should believe you’ve got this.
For more ideas on how to build your confidence in making timely decisions, check out chapter two of The Next Level – Pick up confidence in your presence; Let go of doubt in how you contribute.
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