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  • What is the toughest decision you had to make?
  • What process did you use?

I have read that decision-makers become good by learning from their bad decisions. Trial and error can work, but saddle up if you want to shorten the journey to consistent good decision-making. Simple decisions can be made by flipping a coin particularly if the stakes are low. Shooting from the hip is fine when determining things like which menu item to choose. For more complex decisions having a process will serve you well. The higher one rises in an organization the more elaborate and efficient the process needs to be there are so many things to consider. Effective and efficient decision-making processes are needed in emergencies also; lives are on the line.

Management and leadership training is essential. Training and classroom experiences lay the foundation for good decision-making. Learning theories or hearing about the experiences of others is helpful. Everything seems so straightforward in a training session. Add time pressure, uncertainty, competing priorities, angry people, and/or finite resources and decision-making gets much tougher.

I am categorized as a rational decision-maker. I seek to correctly identify the issue or problem, collaboratively (if time permits) generate potential solutions, analyze the up and downsides of each option then choose the one with the most upside benefit and least downside risk. The managers who worked for me knew how to employ this decision-making process. One of them had a hard decision to make. They went through the process and the best decision under the circumstances emerged. Logically they knew what to do, but emotionally it was difficult. They wanted to consult with me, but I was not available due to a health emergency. They made the decision, met with those it affected, and explained the rationale for that decision. In that instant, they conquered their fear and graduated from manager to leader. Decisions became easier as they became emotionally stronger. Leaders own their decisions.

The Rational Decision-Making Model is one of many tools and techniques that can be used to support decision-makers. One of my colleagues uses Decision Tree Models. I have never used the Matrix Model, but some find it very effective. Our employee recruitment team used an In-box Work Simulation selection tool years ago. In the technological age, more organizations are using data analytics and artificial intelligence. Decisions are not made in a vacuum, no matter who makes them or what tools are used. They are based on organizational missions and priorities. With that in mind use what you have to make the best decisions possible under the circumstances and own your decisions.

How does emotion factor into decision-making? To learn more about my coaching practice, visit: