In my last article, I wrote about two of the common traps decision makers can fall into. In this article, I’d like to share two key questions that must be addressed when making a decision – who should make the decision and who should be in involved in the decision. The answer to the first question is pretty straightforward – generally it’s the individual who is in charge. But the decision maker has some options when it comes to the second question. Let’s explore them.
Some very interesting people attended the leadership skills programs I’ve taught. One was Dan, a recently promoted supervisor who’d spent many years in the Navy. In the program, we talked about the value of having discussions with employees regarding work assignments, upcoming changes and decision making. It was critical, I explained, to listen to employee input and concerns, and then reach consensus on the best way forward.
Stripped down to its essentials, business is about one thing: making decisions. Therefore, decision making is an important skill of leaders in all levels of an organization. It’s also one of the toughest and riskiest skills. It is a skill that can be sidetracked by a number of psychological traps that can undermine decisions. These traps can even cause great leaders to make bad decisions at times. Sometimes the cause is bad luck or poor timing, but more often than not bad decisions are the result of biases that as humans we bring into our decision making processes.
One of the common traits of human behavior is that, when making decisions, we typically evaluate the choices based on our perspectives and emotions at the moment. That results in decisions focused on the “right-now” or a very short-time horizon. You can probably recall impulse purchases that seemed like a great idea at the time, but once you got the item home, you wondered what in the world you were thinking.