Today’s post by Annie Kelley* continues our Emerging Leaders series, featuring guest posts from young leaders in the workplace.
It was the last step in our ultimate do-it-yourself project of building our own home. I’d survived about 300 trips to the hardware store, eating most evening and weekend meals at the convenience store-meets-café known as Petty’s Pit Stop, and having to make more decisions in past nine months than I’d made in the first 23 years of my life.
We were getting the carpet installed, and everything was going smoothly until I was asked a question.
Did I want the carpet to end inside the dining room or at the edge of the inside wall?
My house-building fatigue collided with my weakness in making decisions with confidence, and I froze.
“Uh, what do you think?” I asked the tired, sweaty guy who appeared to be in charge.
“Well, we could stop it in the middle,” he said.
Yes! The middle! Why didn’t I think of that? Meeting in the middle is ALWAYS a great solution. The middle it is. And THAT is how I ended up with THIS.
Carpet stopping mid-way between the dining room and the kitchen. If only I’d told them to have it stop at the edge of the dining room, or start at the edge of the kitchen, I wouldn’t have that lovely inch-high gap between the trim and the floor.
We’ve tried strategically-placed house plants, but poor decision making (and a black thumb) is hard to hide. However, the fact is that making decisions with confidence is part of being a leader. After all, if we never know which direction we need to go, how can we lead others where we want to go? Below are five tips I’ve learned over the years from some respected fellow leaders and my own mistakes.
Five Tips for Making Decisions with Confidence
1. Gather all the facts. Not all decisions allow the luxury of time and information gathering, but when they do (or when you know a big decision is coming up), do your research. Learn if others in your industry or in your company have been faced with similar decisions, and if so, what did they do? If their decision resulted in a not-so-happy ending, what can you do differently?
2. Get respected opinions. Consult your circle of trusted friends or colleagues. Ask someone who you know is an industry expert. It’s not your job to know everything, but it is your responsibility to try to figure out the right answer, and there’s no shame in asking for advice or expertise.
3. Ask WWYLD (What Would Your Leader Do?) Hopefully you’ve had the opportunity to learn about your leader’s thought process. If you know your leader and you know how they think, consider how your leader would approach the situation.
4. Consider what you want to accomplish. What’s the end goal? Will your decision align with the company’s vision and what your team or company wants to accomplish this year? Are you making the decision to benefit you, or is it for the good of the entire organization? If you’re not sure, the answer should be the latter.
5. Just do it. Make a decision already! And remember that not all decisions require fact-gathering, opinion-seeking, and vision-revisiting. But the more important ones – the ones that you might need to later justify – do. Don’t overthink every decision and don’t slow down your team’s momentum because you’re afraid of making a mistake.
Though we all will make mistakes. Sometimes they’ll cost money to fix, like laying new carpet. Other times they’ll cost us time or even heartache. Our tolerance for the price of making the wrong decision will affect our decision making confidence, and that impact is multiplied exponentially when we consider the ripple effect our decision will have on others.
So, what about you? What’s your advice for making decisions with confidence? Are there decisions you wished you could “do over?”
Annie Kelley is a public relations and marketing professional who spends her work days helping organizations communicate their messages with impact. Her passion for great leadership was born out of her own experiences working for and with great and not-so-great leaders. When she’s not working, Annie spends her time hanging out with her young son, working on various yard and home improvement projects with her husband, reading, and (re)learning the violin.
*Annie Kelley is a real leader, but Annie isn’t her real name. In an effort to allow our featured emerging leaders to blog about their own perspectives, challenges, and lessons learned, the guest bloggers in our Emerging Leaders series will blog under aliases in an effort to allow them to be as transparent as possible in sharing their real-life experiences.