written by Mick Ukleja

4 Ways To Make Better Decisions


Ego can be a great asset for a leader or manager. It can create the confidence and self-efficacy a leader needs. But there is a downside. When making organizational decisions a leader’s ego can be a millstone around the neck. Marshall Goldsmith wrote a book entitled, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful. People rise in organizations often times by being the smartest person in the room. But now that you are the CEO or a leader of a team that approach is like kryptonite around the leaders neck, weakening their ability to lead effectively.

How does a managerial-leader leverage herself—especially in the area of making good decisions? Group input is highly valuable for the best decisions. But over-confidence can cause the executive to go solo when he or she feels it suits them. This usually leads to the erosion of others confidence in the executive’s ability to lead.

Here are 2 myths that distort the process.

Myth #1 — Decisions should be made at the highest level.

Decisions made at the highest level are not always the best decisions for the organization. When this happens problems are not solved. They are temporarily postponed. If this person is surrounded with like-minded thinkers then the illusion of a good decision might lull them into feeling good about what they are doing.

Myth #2 – Good decisions result from consensus.

One element that fosters good decision-making is to see an issue from multiple angles. Without this there’s no divergence from accepted norms, no diversity of thought, and no dissension.

This doesn’t automatically happen nor is it our natural tendency. It must be intentional with built in mechanisms that insure various perspectives. This fosters creative solutions.

A fascinating example of this comes from the life of Abraham Lincoln. He was the surprise winner of a viciously contested primary filled with personal attacks and attempted coup d’états. Lincoln secured the nomination and then the presidency. Then he did something contrary to what was expected, yet in line with his egoless clarity. He put the very men he battled with in heated quarrel on his cabinet. He called them his Team of Rivals. They provided a variety of perspectives and tension filled solutions that avoided the yes-man groupthink that marked so many presidential cabinets.

Now you might not put rivals on your team, but Lincoln’s point is well taken. There needs to be the right amount of creative friction to produce the creative tension needed to refine new ideas and challenge old assumptions.

A good leader will know the boiling point so that the tension doesn’t get overbearing or melt the team.

Here’s the real danger: the discussion on teams can shut down quickly, followed by an undue pressure to act on that decision without buy in from those doing the work. The result is sluggish execution. This hits another domino where leaders now feel a need to micromanage and mandate.

As with Lincoln, organizations need to have their own decision process in place that uses the organizations best asset—their people. In doing so the executive is now truly leading everyone on the team.

As you lead your team, try on these four steps for better decision-making.

  1. Rethink Old Solutions. “It didn’t work before,” but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be tried again. Maybe with the current changes and some adaption it might work better.
  2. Go Slow In Order To Go Fast. Don’t be in a rush. That can eliminate asking the right questions. Put down the stop watch. There is a time for expediency, but quick decisions aren’t always the best. Being one who suffers from impulse control, I pay attention to this advice. If you feel there is an urgency, ask what is influencing that? Why the rush? Are we able to allow more research and input?
  3. Operate At The Intersection Of Order And Chaos. There is no need for ironclad control. Loosen the reigns on the discussion. Don’t focus on power. Focus on leadership that welcomes alternative solutions. Develop a culture that appreciates multiple perspectives. Egos should be checked at the door, and dissenting views are not personal attacks.
  4. Listen. The best way to do this is by asking clarifying questions. Let them know you heard them and take them deeper in their thinking.

Effective leaders know when to release control. They delegate and build confidence in others. They see their team’s successes as a way of leveraging their own leadership competencies.

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One response to “4 Ways To Make Better Decisions”

  1. Sid Abma says:

    Hi Mike
    I really liked this article 4 Ways to Make better Decisions.
    I would love to print it out and put it into by Business Decisions binder. Is there a way you could add a Print icon that would just print out the words of the article?

    Have a Fantastic Weekend!
    Sid Abma

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