Making Tough Decisions is an Essential Part of Leadership

Making decisions is an essential part of our work as leaders, whether they are important, challenging, or even trivial.

As leaders, some days it feels like we do nothing but make decisions.

It’s funny though, that given that they are such a significant part of the job, there isn’t much training given on the subject or much advice either.

One boss I worked for told me that the higher you go, the more dangerous decisions become, in fact, get an important one wrong and it could cost you your job.

I know some people took this advice to heart and resisted making decisions until the very last minute, to see whether they could avoid them altogether.

Unfortunately, that’s not my style, I’m a very decisive person, but this doesn’t mean I always get decisions right, far from it, it means that I will make a decision, even a tough decision.

I believe that indecision is a weakness in a leader and that often, indecision can cause more problems than wrong decisions.

So how do you make decisions, especially tough decisions?

Personally, I always try to do what I believe is good, good for the company or good for the team, that’s a decision I can defend if it turns out to be wrong.

I was fortunate to work as deputy to the CIO in one role, and often I would have to make important decisions if he were out of the office, I would always ask myself, ‘what would Stephen do’. He was a good man and always looked to do the right thing, the good thing, so it was very easy to make a decision when you base it on those criteria.

If I don’t have enough information, I will try and get as much as possible, but this is not always possible, then if I have to make a decision, then I will go with my instinct, my gut feeling. More often than not my gut instinct points me in the right direction, not always but more often than not.

Sometimes though, there is no right or wrong answer it’s just a question of left or right, these are the decisions that I find harder to make, and in these cases, I will try and get input from others, trusted friends or colleagues.

As leaders, the final decision often comes down to us, hence the saying it’s lonely at the top, get it right and we are a hero, get it wrong and it can lead to failure.

I also believe that the quicker I make the wrong decision, the quicker I can correct it and make the right one, this is why I am not keen on indecision. It could just mean delaying the wrong decision too long.

Another good thing about always trying to do the right thing, is I find it helps me sleep much easier at night, a clear conscience is great for a good night’s sleep.

What are your thoughts on decision-making, how do you decide, especially when there are tough decisions?

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