How to Stand Firm in Your Decision Making with Confidence and Conviction
Life is full of decisions. From what clothes we wear to the paths we choose in life, we are bombarded with choices that directly impact our existence every day. On average, an adult makes about 35,000 decisions in a day! Yet, it’s the difficult decisions that weigh us down and eat up our time and energy.
The Role of a Leader in Decision Making
As a leader, you’re tasked with making countless decisions every day. Yet, it’s not just about selecting a path; it’s about having faith in your chosen path. It’s like a director in a live theatre production. The whole show will be affected if they hesitate, become indecisive, or become wishy-washy in their decision-making.
When this happens, the entire ensemble on stage can become disoriented. Not only will it take forever to put the production together, actors may stumble and miss their marks, uncertain of the direction. The stagehands may miss their cues, and even the audience may sense the tension and the disconnect. The ripple effect of confusion and uncertainty permeates the entire organization and outcomes.
The fallout from such indecision can be significant. The cast and crew might start questioning their roles, even doubting the abilities of their director. This atmosphere of doubt can stifle the creativity and cohesiveness that are so vital in theatre, leading to a lacklustre performance.
Decision-making is more than just an item on your to-do list; it’s a defining trait of your leadership style. It’s the director’s vision that shapes the story on stage. As the leader, your firm and confident decisions can transform any chaos behind the scenes into a captivating performance in the spotlight.
No one said it would be easy.
It’s important to remember that leaders have to balance cold, hard facts with softer, human emotions. It’s like trying to combine two very different ingredients or juggling tricky objects. It’s a tough job, but when done successfully, it can lead to decisions that are compassionate, effective, and supported by everyone.
In essence, being a leader involves stepping up to the plate, making choices–sometimes difficult choices, and standing by them.
In this article, we will debunk certain decision-making myths and provide insight from an expert on how to become a more effective decision-maker. Many of these misconceptions may hinder us from reaching our maximum potential in life and as leaders.
Myths Surrounding Decision Making
There are several myths associated with decision-making that can often impede our ability to make effective choices. However, as much as the process of decision-making can be complex, it often requires a balance of logic, emotion, timing, and adaptability.
Madelaine Weiss, Leadership Coach and author of Getting to G.R.E.A.T.: a Five-step Strategy for Work and Life based on Science and Stories, shares her insights for overcoming these myths.
She highlights four crucial elements of effective decision-making: go fast, go bold, go emo, and go high! Let’s dig deeper into these principles.
One common myth is that we need to feel comfortable with a decision for it to be correct. However, Weiss challenges this belief by stating that “comfortable” and “effective” are not synonymous. Waiting for comfort before making a decision doesn’t guarantee its correctness.
Discomfort and Effectiveness
Sometimes, we invest too much time and effort in complex decisions, mirroring the Buridan’s Ass paradox, where a donkey dies of indecision, stuck between a bale of hay and a pail of water. Weiss points out that decisions are fluid, not fixed. It’s not about making perfect decisions but how we follow through.
The Power of Follow-through
“A decision is a moving image, not a snapshot,” Weiss says. Each new decision we make is based on the results of the previous one. Hence, it’s the follow-through that determines the effectiveness of a decision, not just the decision itself.
According to a survey by M.I.T.S. Sloan Management Review, 60% of respondents view leaders as competent when they are action-oriented, aggressive in addressing issues, and unafraid of making tough decisions. The reluctance to make decisions can undermine a leader’s authority and the team’s faith in them.
Weiss suggests, “Pay attention to what other people think about what you were attempting to manifest.” The most successful C.E.O.s understand that difficult decisions with equal risks and rewards should not consume too much time. Otherwise, decision fatigue can set in.
The Burden of Indecision
At the end of the day, “it’s not so much the decisions we make as it is what we do with the decisions once we’ve made them,” Weiss asserts. An overwhelmed system cannot process new information, leading to ineffective decision-making.
Check out Marc’s full interview with Madelaine Claire Weiss
Weiss debunks another myth: decision-making isn’t purely logical. The amygdala, our brain’s emotional processing centre, plays a crucial role in decision-making by supplying our brain with emotional data. Leaders must consider not only historical data but also emotional components.
The Emotional Aspect of Decision Making
A competent leader understands the emotional dimensions of a situation in addition to the environmental and cultural factors. Emotions provide necessary data that can lead to better-informed decisions.
Sound judgments require both executive functioning and emotional input. As Weiss explains, “We don’t want emotions to run the bus, but we do want emotions to feed that data.” Engaging the higher brain functions, especially after gathering information, leads to better decision-making with clarity and calmness.
The High Brain and Decision Making
With the help of techniques such as “power breathe,” a quick mental reset, leaders can transition from the stress-induced “fight or flight” mode to a more calm and composed state of mind, allowing the higher brain functions to take over.
As Weiss sums it up, “Nobody wants to make a mistake. But when you stop thinking in terms of mistakes and failures and you just think one foot in front of the other in the best way we know how, we learn in this process.”
We must constantly challenge these myths and mindset limitations about decision-making, adopt a more dynamic approach to decisions, and appreciate the power of emotions and the higher brain. Let’s make decisions that are fast, bold, and emotionally intelligent. Let’s aim high!
Madelaine Claire Weiss (LICSW, MBA, BCC) is a Licensed Psychotherapist and Board- Certified Executive-Career-Life Coach.
She is a co-author in the Handbook of Stressful Transitions Across the Lifespan, and bestselling author of “Getting to G.R.E.A.T. 5-Step Strategy for Work and Life.”
Madelaine is a former mental health practice director, a corporate chief organizational development officer, and associate director of the Anatomical Gift Program at Harvard Medical School.
She has been featured on NBC, W4WRadio, Fox TV, Talk4TV, and presented for The American Bar Association, Harvard Law School, The International Association of Business Communicators, National Association of Realtors, DC Academy of General Dentistry, AARP, Wharton Innovation Summit, and the Bureau of National Affairs.
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