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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Bullock

5 tips on how to make difficult decisions

I've had to make many tough decisions in my career. Some of the most satisfying haven't been my own, but rather those I've helped others to make. I understand how difficult it is, as a new leader, to be presented with a significant choice that might have far-reaching effects if mismanaged.

Making difficult decisions and following through on them is a skill. Our obligation as leaders is to guide others through these dilemmas, encourage them to get comfortable with discomfort, and take action regardless.

Here is some advice you can give others to help them make tough decisions:

1. Determine the next step in reaching a conclusion

Even the most experienced professionals can be overwhelmed by all the factors involved in making an important decision. You don't have to plan everything out at once. Concentrate on what you can accomplish and the next step you need to take while keeping yourself accountable for making progress.

2. Check in with your team regularly

This is the aspect of coaching others through challenging decisions that I like the most. It can be casual and free-flowing while being helpful in checking how far you've come. I prefer to start by simply repeating the aim, giving relevant insights and requesting an update. Based on the outcomes, I may plan a more formal meeting with a subteam.

3. Establish goals and deadlines

This might feel like the easy part in decision-making. Actions, goals and dates must be clearly defined and allocated for accountability. This is an important stage that should not be overlooked.

4. Get them to agree with you

We seldom, if ever, make difficult decisions alone. Get feedback from important stakeholders and contributors, and bring the team together to accomplish the desired result.

5. Set a deadline for the decision

We tend to put off making difficult decisions, preferring to spend time exploring every avenue. I've found that establishing a schedule for when a decision should be made is beneficial to leaders at all levels.

TAKEAWAY: For experienced and inexperienced leaders alike, making difficult decisions can be tricky. Good leaders encourage people to participate in decision-making.


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