Being A More Effective Decision Maker

by Duncan Brodie

Every leader and manager understands that until a decision is made, no action is taken and if no action is taken then it is unlikely that you will deliver results. At the same time, taking decisions is not always what leaders and managers do.

Common barriers to effective decision making

Over the years I have come across a whole host of reasons why leaders and managers resist taking decisions. These include:

Procrastination – by that I mean delaying or putting off something so that a small decision ends up becoming a major one.

Information overload – you know, when you have so much information that it is difficult to see the wood from the trees.

Waiting for perfect information – we are naturally prudent and risk averse to some extent. At the same time, if we are waiting for perfect information we never get to a decision taking stage because it will never be available.

Fear – sometimes people put things off because they are frightened that they will make the wrong decision and, if they do, they will look silly or be viewed negatively by others.

Making effective decisions

Decision making is like anything else. The more practice we have, the better that we get at it. The truth is that there is no magic formula that will guarantee success every time. Even some of the most successful people in business will tell you that they have got as many decisions wrong as they got right.

Given that there is no success guarantee formula, what can you do to make your decision making more effective?

Be clear about the purpose of your decision

Our natural tendency is to jump straight into problem solving mode, when spending a few minutes to get clear about the purpose of the decision could be time well spent. It might be to kick start change, to resolve a problem or even move into a new market.

Generate alternatives

When faced with a decision, particularly if it is a significant one, it can sometimes feel like a win-lose or right-wrong situation, especially if you have only two choices. By generating alternatives, you not only take the pressure off yourself but potentially generate an even better decision.

Test your ideas with others

I know I found it extremely valuable when I worked in big organisations to have someone outside of the department I worked in who I could bounce ideas off. The value is that those from other professional disciplines look at things differently and as a result they raise your own level of understanding about the decision and consequences.

Trust your intuition

Sometimes the facts, figures and information might be pointing your decision in a certain direction but intuitively it does not feel right. Learning to trust your intuition (or gut feeling) is valuable when it comes to taking decisions as it opens up possibilities that you might not otherwise consider.

Keep a sense of perspective

Like every other leader and manager, I have made my fair share of mistakes when it comes to decisions. What I have learned is that we are in an area of business where few of our decisions are life or death, so keep a sense of perspective when it comes to making decisions.

The Bottom Line: Taking decisions goes with the territory as a leader or manager. So what’s stopping you from taking decisions and how is this impacting on your results?

If you are ready to become a highly effective manager, I invite you to sign up for my 10 part e-course at

Duncan Brodie of Goals and Achievements (G&A) works with professional people who want to excel as leaders and managers and achieve career success