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How to develop your decision-making skills

Being expected to make decisions and take responsibility for the success or failure of the outcome can be terrifying and nerve-wracking, even for those who do it on a regular basis. However, it does become more bearable with the passage of time. What’s more, taking the time to polish your decision-making skills and build that area of strength is in your best interest, especially if you are aiming to become a C-suite executive. Making decisions is a vital part of a business leader’s life, so if you’re unaccustomed to being in such circumstances, here is how you can get started:

  1. Let the numbers speak to you: If you’re in search of a guiding light when faced with a decision you’re not sure how to approach, look to reports, charts, and figures to do some of the intellectual heavy lifting for you. If available, always refer to previously conducted research to get an idea of what would be the most sensible course of action. Search for insights from authorities on the subject, or formulate your own based on the numbers available. Basing your decision off scientific or quantifiable evidence will lend it much credibility and weight. 

  2. Listen to your gut: Though relying solely on cold, hard facts can be a great starting point, letting data make decisions isn’t always the best course of action. While it’s important to consider the numbers, you should also consider listening to what your intuition tells you to do. Also known as instinct or “inner voice,” it is not to be discounted when on the cusp of making a crucial decision. Depend upon it most in times of fear or uncertainty.

  3. Consult a senior: If you’re new to making important decisions and shouldering the responsibility of the outcome, who better to seek advice from than the people who have done it several times before? Don’t expect your superiors to do your work and choose for you, but do soak up the knowledge they have to offer. Be enlightened by the stories of the challenges they faced along the way, and the mistakes they made. Knowing that you aren’t alone in having to make tough choices is comforting, and there are likely valuable lessons that can be learned.

  4. Envision as many outcomes as possible: There will be positive and negative scenarios that arise out of every decision you make.
    Anticipating all the possible outcomes and having a plan of action tailored to each of them will help you feel mentally prepared and better equipped to tackle whatever comes your way.

  5. Consider the needs of the stakeholders: Whatever decision you make will end up impacting somebody in the long run – and in business, it’s usually, it’s several parties all at once since stakeholders typically consist of colleagues, subordinates, stockholders, consumers, business partners and beneficiaries. If you’re dealing with a large group of people, chances are you won’t end up pleasing everybody. Prioritise the group or groups whose lives will be most impacted by whatever decision you take, and cater to their needs as much as possible. There will always be those who won’t be satisfied with the solutions you opt for, so you must figure out how to best appease them.

  6. Don’t put it off: Procrastinating on pending decisions – especially tough ones – will only make you feel more burdened. Instead of letting it continue to weigh on you, give yourself a firm decision-making deadline. Put it in your calendar and don’t let it slip by. Once you’ve made the decision, you’ll feel better and will be able to move on to the next thing.
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