Your Indecision Is Costing Too Much!
8 Proven Behaviors To Help You Be More Decisive
As the pace of change increases, the ability of leaders to make high-quality decisions quickly and accurately is a critical leadership capability. One might think with the influx of information available to us today that good decisions would be easy to make. In many ways, a tyranny of choice occurs when leaders have access to so much information and so many potential choices: decisions become more difficult to make. Bad decisions can put organizations in jeopardy for obvious reasons, but delayed decisions can also hurt by losing competitive advantage. Organizations need leaders who can quickly look at the facts, discuss options, and make a decision. While it seems simple, it is not as clear what skills are needed to enable leaders to develop this skill.
To better understand decisiveness, I looked at data from 589 leaders. Each was given feedback on their ability to be decisive and make high quality decisions, and were evaluated using 360-degree feedback collected from their manager, peers, direct reports, and others with whom they worked. The following four behaviors were used to evaluate their decisiveness:
• Makes decisions and continually moves forward
• Keeps decisions moving forward in an environment of uncertainty
• Balances reflection with decisiveness
• Makes good decisions based on a mixture of analysis, wisdom, experience, and judgment
To examine the impact of decisiveness on a leader’s perceived effectiveness, we first looked at independent potential ratings for the leaders as identified by their organizations. We then compared those ratings to the overall 360-degree ratings on decisiveness. The graph below shows the results. Leaders who were identified as having high potential scored 10 percentile points higher on their decisiveness than those who were identified as promotable, and 20 percentile points higher than those who were assigned to develop in place. All the differences here are statistically significant.
This analysis shows that a leader’s ability to be decisive significantly affects their leadership potential. What can a leader do to become more decisive?
What Enables Leaders to Be More Decisive?
In further analysis of the 360-degree results, I identified the 20 leadership behaviors that were most strongly correlated with decisiveness. Using a factor analysis, I then identified the eight factors that enabled leaders to make decisions quickly and effectively. Improvement in these behaviors will help a leader to become more decisive.
1. Risk Taking.
A leader who is decisive is willing to take risks. Some leaders believe that if they look at all the data, understand all the contingencies, and calculate all the potential problems, the right decision will magically appear. However, when leaders attempt to do all the analytics, many develop “analysis paralysis” and are unable to make a decision. It is good for leaders to analyze data, look at trends, and anticipate problems. However, eventually leaders need to take a risk and make a decision. When leaders recognize that most decisions are risks, they also acknowledge that they might make the wrong one.
2. Communicates Powerfully.
Decisive leaders are excellent communicators who continuously keep others informed, while indecisive leaders keep information to themselves. When leaders are effective at sharing information, often other people raise additional questions or push back on assumptions. This helps leaders to become smarter about the decisions they are making.
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