President Truman decided to drop the Atomic bomb
President Kennedy stood firm when faced with the Cuban missile crisis.
President George W. Bush faced the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
While executives have to make crucial decisions every day, they rarely rise to the level made by those in the Oval Office. Decisions made in your office will affect the future of your organization, the people you serve, and potentially the jobs of your employees.
Making smart decisions are always a challenge.
A research report from the consulting firm, McKinsey and Company, suggests that quality internal discussions and strategic planning can be a big help.
“Decisions initiated and approved by the same person generate the worst financial results—indicating the value of good discussion. And decisions made at companies without any strategic planning process are twice as likely to have generated extremely poor results as extremely good ones—more than a fifth of them generated revenue 75 percent or more below expectations. This may indicate an overall lack of rigor at these companies.”
In an inc.com article, Ben Horowitz, the author of The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers, said making important decisions is probably the most challenging part of the job. “Hard things are hard because there are no easy answers or recipes,” he said. “They are hard because your emotions are at odds with your logic. They are hard because you don’t have the answer, and you cannot ask for help without showing weakness.”
When faced with making critical decisions, consider these tips:
1) Make sure you are getting the information you need in an unvarnished way. Don’t let people filter what you need to hear. That means you have to know who you can trust.
2) You will never have all the information you need. Sometimes waiting too long is worse than making no decision at all.
3) Know that there are times when you have to trust your gut. Learn how to read people. This is especially important when you have to decide between two vendors that have made similar proposals or faced with similar tactics.
4) When pressed for a quick decision, ask yourself what is causing you to be pressured to move fast. Is it really an emergency, or is it possible that you have more time to review your options.
5) Consider how your decision will play once it is made. Imagine what would happen if it is written up in the press. Will it appear ethical? How will your staff or board members view it? How will the lawyers see it? You may not have an affirmative consensus for every decision you make, but it is wise to consider the reaction it will trigger.
Senior executives are paid to be decisive, but as Greyhound CEO Stephen Gorman told the Harvard Business Review, “A bad decision was better than a lack of direction. Most decisions can be undone, but you have to learn to move with the right amount of speed.”