The Skill We All Need But Few Have Mastered
Decisions. Decisions. We make thousands of them every day. What you’re going to eat for dinner tonight or which movie you’re going to watch next, have few, if any, long lasting consequences. Others, like moving your family to a new home where your children will attend a new school can have a huge impact on your family’s life.
In business, it’s no different. Our role as leaders is to make important decisions, and our choices massively impact culture, profitability and ultimately the success or failure of our businesses.
Early on in my career as a coach a business owner reached out to me for guidance to turn around his company that couldn’t seem to maintain profit. He had been struggling for years and was now in a downward spiral he feared he could not pull up from. Being in that place of fear made it difficult to step back and gain perspective. A vantage point was sorely needed.
After a deep dive and thorough review of his business, we identified the root causes of his misfortune. What it boiled down to was he had made some really poor decisions, one after another, and the compounding effects had taken their toll. The good news was we now knew exactly how to fix his current state through an array of powerful decisions that would quickly return him to profitability. These weren’t easy decisions as they caused some major changes in strategy. Major strategy changes are never a simple feat.
Together we created a highly detailed plan that my client was certain would work if executed properly. One little problem: the plan required an investment of money that simply didn’t exist. He was down to his last $10k and he needed to make payroll of $15k in two days. So what did he do? He made a different sort of decision—one I never forgot. He drove 4 hours to Atlantic City to the nearest casino in the middle of the night to place every dollar to his name he had on the roulette table. Five turns in a row, he bet $10k dollars on black. After about 5 minutes he got up from the table after winning $50,000 and drove back home. He called me the next day to tell me the “putting it all on the line” story. Not that gambling is the answer but ironically sometimes business in itself is literally a gamble.
The point is that at some point you are going to be forced to make difficult decisions, ones that will completely change the landscape of your business. So the question is, will you be ready and will you be equipped with the tools needed to pull the trigger with confidence?
Chet Holmes always said, “It’s the skills of a business owner that determine the success of their company.” Poignant. Powerful. Think about how important the skill of decision making actually is to the quality of your life and your business. Imagine the changes you would create and the results you would achieve if you mastered the skill of decision making?
Recent studies show most business owners and leaders have not learned the skill of making good decisions quickly. The first and most important step to making better decisions is to understand yourself and the type of decision maker you are.
A Harvard Business Review study identified five decision making styles. Each has its own style and characteristics. Which one are you?
Visionary: You know where you are headed, how to get there and are a natural leader when getting others to follow.
BEWARE: Sometimes you make decisions too fast without all the other information to make a good one.
SOLUTION: Use others as a check point to gain different viewpoints and further details.
Guardian: You have the soundest decision-making processes (fact-based and planned out carefully).
BEWARE: In times of crisis when pivoting fast means survival you may not be equipped to make immediate changes.
SOLUTION: Pre-organize a task force for these times that you can lean on to expedite the hard decisions.
Motivator: You are a powerful change agent who can influence others.
BEWARE: What you want may outweigh the information you are gathering and while you’re busy presenting your compelling story some important facts are missing.
SOLUTION: Lay all the facts in front of you and look deeper for other interpretations, then consider the wider implications. (Establish your own process for doing this and stick to it each and every time.)
Flexible: Your versatility is legendary wielding an open mind that weighs everyone’s perspectives allowing you to adapt to any circumstance thrown at you.
BEWARE: Getting caught up in all possible bits of intel can paralyze your decision-making ability. (The Waffler)
SOLUTION: Establish a framework for receiving information drawing some boundaries and setting some rules so you don’t waste time coming to the right conclusion.
Catalyst: You can take on a mountain of information then move that mountain through facilitated group think.
BEWARE: Group think can sometimes end up in watered-down mediocre results.
SOLUTION: Avoid this by determining a way to alert yourself to “high-stakes” decisions, then apply one of the other decision-making approaches.
Knowing what kind of decision-maker you are is a great place to start because that insight influences how you attack the issue at hand. Furthermore, by following Chet’s advice and taking action on “mastering the skill” of decision-making is the single largest game changer for any business leader.
By Adam McCaa, Senior Growth Coach at Chet Holmes International
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