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As a leader, you are faced with many difficult decisions, and they are presented to you every day. Experienced leaders tell us those tough decisions are often characterized by three key elements: clarity, context, and choice.

· Clarity: Tough decisions often require a clear understanding of the issue, including the facts and relevant information. Clarity is essential to make an informed decision.

· Context: Tough decisions are often made in the context of complex and challenging situations. It’s essential to understand the decision’s broader context, including its impact on colleagues and team members.

· Choice: Tough decisions often involve a difficult choice between two or more options. The leader must weigh each option’s pros and cons and determine the best course of action.

It is absolutely vital to think out your process well in order to balance the team’s needs, and also make a decision that will have a lasting impact.

Here are some significant thoughts to consider as you design and follow your process:

Plan a process you follow for decisions. This could involve gathering all relevant information, considering the decision’s long-term impact, and seeking out the perspectives of others. This is the way to make sure you are informed about everything that is relevant.

COMMUNICATE. If your decision will impact others, and it likely will, explain yourself. By taking the time to explain your reasoning and the factors involved, you can help build trust with your team.

Consider the effect and impact the possible decision will have on your team and colleagues. It builds trust and understanding and makes it more likely that the decision will be beneficial and sustainable.

Welcome different perspectives. Get information and input from team members or other involved parties. There is wisdom and safety from widening the perspective circle.

Own your tough decision. Be transparent and then willing to take responsibility for the outcome. Be willing to accept the positive or negative outcomes.

Do your best to avoid or at least reduce decision fatigue. When you are in a period of time where the number of decisions you must make increases, realize the quality of decision drops.

Decision fatigue is a natural phenomenon where the quality of your decisions decreases as the number of decisions you make increases. To reduce decision fatigue, it’s essential to prioritize your choices, focusing on the most important ones first and delegating or postponing the less important decisions if possible.

Remove your emotions and biases from the process. Take yourself out of the equation. This helps ensure that your decisions are based on sound logic and relevant information rather than personal preferences or emotions.

Create a firm deadline. When you increase the urgency of the decisions, you will make a better more focused decision.

Focus on long-term vision. This means considering the potential consequences of each decision, both in the short term and over the long term and making choices that will have a positive impact on your team and company over time.

“Inability to make decisions is one of the principal reasons executives fail. Deficiency in decision-making ranks much higher than lack of specific knowledge or technical know-how as an indicator of leadership failure.” – John Maxwell

Of course, a great and decisive leader who can do hard things and make difficult decisions doesn’t mean that you are the only one who can decide. It does mean that you know when decisions need to be made, and you will be prepared and influence them.

The foundation for all of this is knowing your core values. They are the principles that determine who you are and what you are about above all else. Your core values are unshakable – everything you do reflects your true values, even if you SAY they are something else. No matter what, you will always reflect these values in everything you do. Core values are the keys to establishing non-negotiables, the things you will not give up or change no matter what changes around you.

The Boldly Lead organization says that core values tell them which options to take off the table and which remain viable. If it violates a core value, it simply isn’t under consideration.

It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” – Roy Disney

But core values are not just “in your head and heart.” If they aren’t written down somewhere, you don’t really know your core values. You want to have them written down where you can refer to them again and again.

Making great decisions, especially in difficult times, requires recognizing that the best option is the one that matches up with our purpose and the outcome we intended. It is more in line with who we are and what we are about. If an option doesn’t match up to both, it is probably not the best option for you.

Seek wise counsel. Do less by command and more by counsel. Cultivate an inner circle where you mutually rely on each other for perspective and wisdom. Again, Boldly Lead says, “Your inner circle should have values similar to yours. They will not be ‘yes men’ but will hold you accountable. Share your challenges and thoughts with them. Welcome them to ask questions. They will give perspective and help you consider options.”

Good leadership is not a popularity contest. Because we tend that direction, we’re tempted to postpone and avoid tough decisions and hard conversations. But your job as a leader is to decide and act.

So, take responsibility. Identify the decisions you need to make and select the one that most needs cared for now. List the information you need to make an informed decision and where you might obtain it. Who can give perspective? Then take time to reflect on what you have discovered. Next, determine a plan. What do you need to do before you act? Are there any key people with whom you need to meet? Create a step-by-step strategy you need to follow, and a deadline for each step.

When you complete these steps, TAKE ACTION NOW. You will be prepared to make a good decision. Be confident. Don’t waste time second guessing yourself. Decisions and change can be very difficult but concentrate on the payoff. You can do it.

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