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Overcoming 5 barriers to decisiveness

by on
in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

by Kevin Eikenberry

Your day is filled with making decisions. What course should we take? What should our pricing be? What will we do next? How will we explain that to the customer? And even, where do you want to go for dinner?

All day long and in all parts of your life, decisions are required. This article will help you to diagnose why your decision-making might not be as effective as you’d like. More im­­portant, once you have a diagnosis, you will have ideas for being more decisive, starting now.

The 5 barriers

1. Fear. Sometimes, people are afraid to make a mistake, afraid to be wrong, afraid to make a decision. This happens to everyone, especially on big decisions. Caution is OK, paralysis is not.

Action: Ask yourself, “What is the worst outcome that could come from this decision?” If you can live with that outcome, make the decision. Remember, that outcome isn’t imminent, only possible. If that negative outcome isn’t an option, consider ways to mitigate or eliminate those results with a different decision, and then make that one. Also, remind yourself that “no decision” is truly a decision. Don’t let fear lead you to the “no-action” decision.

2. Time. “I need more time.” I often hear people say that more time is needed to make a decision. Don’t let more time become your crutch.

Action: Give yourself a deadline. Then, when the deadline arrives, make sure to use the insights gained through that extra time to make the decision based on your thought process up until that time.

3. Information. Sometimes, it’s about the facts and figures. The decision can’t be made until you “have all the data.” You absolutely need the relevant information, and time spent on data collection can be a stalling tactic.

Action: Find a balance. Determine what information and relevant experience you need, but balance that with a sense of urgency about deciding. Recognize too that if you are a data-driven person this might be your tendency. Work with someone else in the data collection/analysis phase, who might not share your love of information, to help you move past the information to the implementation of your decision.

4. Deference. It isn’t your decision to make, or you want others to make the decision instead. This barrier could be an extension of one of the others, especially fear. It also could be that you really want others involved in the decision, for all the right reasons. While this can be a noble purpose, some decisions don’t warrant deference or even the time it takes to hand the decision to someone else, e.g., when there is a fire, someone needs to lead everyone to the door, and it doesn’t have to be the team leader!

Action: Have general agreement about who is able to make what types of decisions. It will make it much easier for people to know when the decision is theirs.

5. Habit. Your experience with the other four barriers, how you were raised, tendencies of your mentors and/or the culture of the organizations you’ve worked in can all combine into a habit of indecisiveness.

Action: Recognize your normal (read: habitual) approach to decisions and consciously do something different. Based on which other barriers affect you, consider those suggestions to help you move forward.

Chances are, as you read this, there is a decision on your mind. It might be small, or it might be monumental. It might have just crossed your mind, or it may have been weighing on you for weeks.

Listen to your inner voice and consider your options on this decision. This article has given you some ideas, but ideas aren’t enough. Now you must decide what you are going to do. Think about these barriers and the potential solutions. Decide now which of these actions you will take.

The best way to become more decisive is to make decisions.

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