Written by Guest Blogger: Andrea Mackenzie

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Making split-second decisions seems rather counterintuitive in the context of running a business, where top management are often handed all kinds of pertinent data which they can carefully peruse in order to make informed decisions — generally with the benefit of time. Such is not always the case, however, as business leaders are routinely put on the spot, often facing that unenviable task of having to make a decision right then and there. 

For instance, former Boeing CEO Bill Allen wagered the company’s future on a vision, and the end-result validated his initial belief. His gutsy move not only transformed Boeing itself, but also signalled the birth of the billion-dollar civil aviation industry. More recently, pharmacy worker Matthew Stillone made a split-second decision to quit his job and pursue a business. Said business would turn out to be Protein Supplies Australia, which has become a multimillion venture, according to Business News Australia.

The takeaway here is that making split-second decisions is actually commonplace in business, especially among members of top management. It is thus imperative that owners and company heads stay level-headed when placed in such challenging moments. Then again, that is easier said than done. With that in mind, here are some secrets to staying unflappable even with a make-or-break decision looming:

Value Your Time

Instead of ruining the immediacy of the decision-making situation, view it in a more positive light. Think about how valuable your time is, and how agonizing over one solitary decision will take up much of it. It should be noted, too, that the thought given to making a decision is far more important than the time allotted for the entire process.

Think Long Term

Focusing on the long-term goals is a good way to streamline the decision-making process. More importantly, those long-term goals can be used as a blueprint in as far as gauging the possible outcomes — both positive and negative — of the decision that will be made. One of the biggest challenges to making fast but sensible decisions is having too many criteria as a decision-maker will tend to assess each one, thus taking much time in the process. What happens often, therefore, is that dreaded paralysis by analysis wherein more time is spent thinking rather than doing. In this regard, a business owner can factor in the company’s bottom line and employee engagement when deciding on a salary increase. Department managers, meanwhile, can green light a business process if it will improve something vital within the company, like inter-department communication, for instance. 

Don’t Dwell on Failure

Any decision brings forth the possibility of failure, and given this fact, business leaders ought to bear in mind that failure can be reframed as an opportunity to grow. As we explained in part ‘4 of Embracing My Failures: Fail Fast’, “Growth happens at the intersection of challenge and support,” with the right mix of both serving as fuel to overcome hurdles, like failures brought about by a particular decision. To this end, business leaders are encouraged by Menlo Coaching to write about these setbacks. This should be done as truthfully as possible, though, and without washing hands and minimizing faults. By doing so, objective self-reflection will be made possible, and personal growth will follow. For example, a manager who signs off on a project that turns disastrous must take note of everything, including the problems encountered and the faults of everyone, including his, most especially. He should then evaluate his notes and identify actionable solutions, so when something similar comes up, he and his team will be better prepared. 

Go With Your Gut

Inc. Magazine advises company heads to go with their gut, as trusting instincts often pays off. But there is a caveat: It should be done with the benefit of relevant information. Besides, business leaders are leaders for a reason, as they are presumed to be equipped with the necessary knowledge and wisdom to make tough decisions even on the fly. 

Indeed, making split-second decisions is an undeniable part of life, especially in business. But members of top management need not fret when faced with such tough moments; instead, they should stay level-headed by valuing their time, thinking of long-term goals, looking at failure as fuel for improvement, and going with their gut.


Feature solely written for three-hats.com
Prepared by Andrea Mackenzie