In theory, making decisions sounds really easy: you are given two or more options to choose from, and you simply decide which option you think is best for you. However, in reality, making decisions can become much more complicated than this. Your ability to make the right decisions can mean the difference between enormous success and mediocrity, and it is a critical life skill that needs to be learnt to perfection.
While making basic decisions, such as which flavor of ice cream to buy, are relatively simple, things become complicated when you begin making decisions that can affect others negatively, or where making the wrong decision can have adverse effects on your life.
Often, many people do not like making decisions and will actually avoid them. A leader is a person who is always able to make a decision and stick with it. The people who fail tend to be those who make a decision, but then are indecisive about following through on it.
Typically, people will put off decision making to the last minute, take unreasonably excess time to collect more than necessary info, or wait to see if the problem will go way on its own. Whereas a successful person is capable of making good decisions and can also make these decisions within a short period of time.
The first step in becoming an effective decision maker is to make decisions within a timely manner. This does not mean one should rush; when you are considering an action which could have adverse consequences on yourself or others, it is wise to seek the advice of others and think critically about any choice.
However, at the same time, you should not spend too much time doing this, as this is called procrastinating, and when you do this, you are prone to failure. Even if the final decision you make is wrong, a strong leader will always learn from them, and will not repeat the same mistake twice.
How to make a decisions?
When making a decision, especially a critical one, there are a number of things that you will want to take into consideration.
The first thing that you should consider is the downside of any choice you make. If the liability involved with any major decision is heavily adverse, the best option is to say "no." As a decision maker, you must protect both yourself and those under you. If an option has too many negative consequences, you simply cannot afford to go down that path.
The second thing that should always consider is the cost/benefit analysis. Picking any given option which is available to you will have costs and benefits.
The trade offs of any given decision will typically come in the form or resources and the benefits that you will gain by sacrificing them. A skillful leader is one who will always consider the cost/benefit analysis when making a critical decision.
The best decisions to make are those which have a fairly low cost combined with a benefit that is very high. Whenever you encounter an option where the benefits exceed the cost, it should be obvious to you that this is the best option to choose. In contrast, the worst decisions are those that have a high cost with a benefit that is too low.
The next thing you must consider is the parties that will be a part of the decision. Even if you are the leader of an organization, and you have the final say in any decision that is made, your choices will effect other people, and if it effects them in an adverse way, it could damage your position and reputation as a leader.
Therefore, you must always consider the advice of those who are most likely to be effected by any decision that you make. By asking others for input, you gain the ability to see beyond your own eyes, and can consider the perspectives of others, who may be able to see things that you are incapable of seeing.
Make Quick Decisions
While asking for input and taking the time to gather info is a good idea when it comes to making a decision, there are times in which decisions must be made quickly, where there is simply not enough time to get a consensus.
The best example of this is an emergency. If the situation is urgent, taking the time to gather a consensus could be disastrous, and may convey the impression that the leader is ineffective. This is not a situation that a leader wants to find themselves in.