With greater authority comes great responsibility; the two go hand in hand. Eventually you are working on two things – putting out fires and vision. If you are not careful to protect your time to allow for creativity, the fires quickly overtake vision.
In a growing business, your job comes down to a plethora of daily decisions. Some take place unconsciously, others require great thought. Knowing the difference is critical.
We do not need to address the unconscious decisions – the critical ones require a process to protect the desired outcomes. What is more, these decisions are often made in the midst of chaos. Therefore, you still must be able to slow things down in order to properly process.
“Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.”
– Peter Drucker
From experience working alongside entrepreneurs from a variety of industries, I have determined five crucial steps that must be taken to ensure success in critical decision-making:
STEP 1: Check your ego at the door. Our egos are critically important to driving a team forward. There is nothing wrong with a healthy, confident and balanced ego; but when critical decision-making rears its head, you must check your ego at the door, as it can cloud decisions with emotion, not reason, leading to bad consequences.
STEP 2: Seek to understand before being understood. Basically – shut up, listen, then ask a lot of questions. Big decisions do not have apparent answers and you need to gather all critical data from a multitude of perspectives. So, keep seeking information; the pieces will come together.
It is important to note in this step that any relevant information you fail to gather will potentially come back to hurt you later. There is a lot of time pressure in this process, but you must try to answer as many questions as possible.
STEP 3: Learn or win, never allow complaining or blaming. When a critical decision appears, you cannot allow those who you are seeking information from to start complaining and blaming others. Only learning or winning is allowed, as both are positives. Engaging in the “blame game” allows no one to win or to learn. Your role is to seek clarity, to see through the confusion and the emotions.
STEP 4: Seek wisdom. The most critical step – mentors are extremely important. Groups like CEO Nexus, Vistage and Strategic Coach allow leaders to be around other leaders from different industries and present issues in a confidential manner. It is amazing the perspectives that will be gained by hearing from those who only care about you and are not in the middle of your hunt. They will offer invaluable advice.
Most people are afraid to share their issues because they don’t want to expose a weakness or are embarrassed, when the opposite is true – all leaders are going through the same issues, there is nothing new, only the names change. Remember problems are opportunities turned inside out and paying for personal experience is expensive; seeking the wisdom of others to gain a better perspective is priceless and saves countless dollars and time. Wisdom brings clarity and helps make that long journey between your head and heart; a journey the leader must make daily.
STEP 5: Act with courage. Trust your instincts and avoid analysis paralysis; eventually you must make a decision. You probably will not have all information and the consequences of your decision will still have unanswered outcomes. Consider your timing, but when ready, decide with courage and go forward. Never look back and second guess yourself. There will always be fear present, but courage is acting with faith in spite of fear.