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Daily Leadership Thought #101 – 8 Steps To Avoid Impulsive Decision Making

I meet a lot of people in my line of work who pride themselves on their “gut level decision-making.”  Rather than striving to make the most informed decision they trust their own experience and judgment to drive the organization forward.  In my experience, they need to be careful that they don’t end up driving the business or their life off of a cliff or into a dead-end.  I certainly respect personal experience and there are some people who definitely have a knack for making good “seat of the pants” decisions, but experience and confidence alone, are not enough to consistently grow a company or lead a life.   At some point you run out of answers and/or luck.

There is certainly a place for being impulsive and trusting your intuition.  We’ve all have examples of being forced to make tough decisions with limited information and time.  However, more often than not this pressure is self-inflicted.  Thankfully, most of us don’t operate in a battlefield environment where all you have is your training, experience and gut.  I urge you to take the following 8 steps before jumping into any major business or life decision:

1) Consult colleagues and peers who have previous experience with the issue or a similar type issue – look for examples you can learn from;

2) Solicit feedback from people who will be directly affected by the decision;

3) Take some time to carefully think through the pros and cons of the issue/decision and then rank the top five in each category based on impact and likelihood to happen;

4) Consider the worst possible outcome and what you would do should this happen;

5) Make sure the decision is aligned with your core values as a person and you truly “believe” it is the right thing to do;

6) Estimate the time, costs and skills required to be successful and then increase this by 25%  and then assess whether or not you can carry the burden – do your financial due diligence;

7) Make sure you have the personal capacity to provide the leadership required and a plan to address any potential knowledge or performance gaps;

8 ) Have an exit strategy – what would make you pull the plug?

I know this all sounds like considerable effort, but it is worth it.  Time spent on the front end will save you on the back-end.  I realize not every decision is a major one and you may shortcut some of the steps some of the time.  However, it is almost always better to think before your act.


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