Effective leaders share the ability to make sound decisions, to gain acceptance of their decisions, and to implement them successfully to solve problems. Good human relationship skills and conscientious effort enhance the decision-making and problem-solving skills that characterize the most successful leaders. A leader’s typical workday is a series of decisions. Collectively, all the decisions you make each day eventually determine your success and that of your organization.
Improvement in your decision-making ability requires in-sight into the habits and personality traits characteristic of your usual approach.
The 4 decision-making style.
Decision-making styles relate to deeply ingrained personality characteristics.
- Confident and optimistic leaders make on-the-job decisions with confidence and optimism.
- Leaders who are burdened with a low self-image approach decision making and problem-solving with fearful caution and pessimistic hesitation.
- Those who are habitually compulsive and perfectionistic demand excessive data and spend too much time in analysis.
- Leaders who have faith and confidence in people are able to survey problems quickly. They make decisions based on the information that can be collected within a brief period of time.
Effective leaders think clearly, analyze problems accurately, and consider the feelings of team members. Insecure leaders focus more on their own feelings than on the feelings of others; they also tend to become involved in small decisions that should be delegated using a proper delegation plan. Confident, secure leaders allow team members to make those decisions that are within the scope of their capabilities and encourage them to reach those decisions promptly.
When leaders know who they are, what they stand for, what they want from life, and how they plan to get it, they are well equipped to make the best possible decisions. Effective decision making is inexorably tied to strong personal and organizational goals. A strong self-image arises from a well-developed plan of action and from criteria against which to judge possible decisions.
Effective leaders make a commitment to follow a system of values and ethics in making every decision. They define those values and ethical standards in exact, concrete terms. Otherwise, every decision they make forces them to go all the way back to reach a basic ethical decision before they can make the practical one.
Because certain decisions may provoke negative reactions, some managers hesitate to take initiative to make necessary decisions. Effective leaders, on the other hand, assume responsibility for making such decisions when necessary. They then explain the reasons for their decision; their actions and courage combined to demonstrate their personal confidence that the decision is a sound one.
You should expect everyone to cooperate and reflect your positive expectancy in your attitude, behaviour, and speech. When time and experience prove that your decision was the right one, people gain increased confidence and faith in your leadership ability.
To cure or prevent indecision, give concentrated attention to the value statements that form an integral part of your plan of action. Use these personal and organizational values to strengthen your sense of identity and establish firm standards for future behaviour.
The courage and self-confidence required for decisiveness develop steadily over time. Every small improvement in your decision-making ability strengthens your leadership effectiveness.
How to practice creativity in decision making.
Creativity has been defined as seeing the same problems everybody else sees but thinking of solutions no one else has considered. Like other personality traits, creativity can be enhanced through setting challenging goals and following specific plans for achievement. First, look closely and realistically at your attitudes. These habits of thought colour your whole outlook in every area of life and affect almost every action you take. Become aware of how attitudes influence your decision-making and problem-solving activities. When you know what your attitudes are and accept
responsibility for choosing those that most constructively govern your leadership behaviour, you free your creative potential.
The possibility for creativity exists whenever a problem must be solved. Stretch the limits of your creativity by continually exploring innovative alternatives and exercising the courage to implement the best ones. Increase the amount of creativity you now use by giving attention to your self-image, your attitudes, and your actions.
Not every problem, of course, demands a creative solution; it may simply require that someone point out the organization’s standard operating procedure in that particular area. Your best course as a leader is sometimes just to indicate who will be responsible for making a certain decision.
5 steps to approach decision making creatively:
- Recognize your typical modes of problem-solving.
Deliberately apply new approaches to expand the problem-solving skills you now practice. Decide how a given problem can best be solved only after analyzing several methods. Insist upon considering a wide variety of prospective solutions. This open-minded approach enhances your ability to reach decisions and solve problems.
- Identify any defensiveness in your thinking.
You restrict creativity when you jealously defend a position previously taken, protect a pet project, or rely too heavily upon your status and prestige rather than upon performance. Become aware of your own habitual responses. Identify specific ways in which you may be limiting your own productivity—and that of your team members. Then force yourself to make specific changes to unleash your creativity and increase your productivity.
- Take the risks involved in change.
Solving any problem demands that you consider risk versus certainty. The goals of your organization determine what paramount needs must be considered when making any decision.
The consequences of various solutions should always be taken into account. But if you never make a wrong decision, you are too cautious! Fear of making a mistake inevitably results in lost opportunities for both you and your organization. Effective decision-making is a process of disturbing your own psychological serenity.
- Refuse to be excessively concerned with social approval.
Personal independence is required to break with tradition and think “outside the box.” Refuse to be overly concerned about what others say, think, or do. You will grow in your ability to solve problems; at the same time, your reputation as someone who “gets things done” is enhanced. When your success becomes evident, social approval follows.
- View every problem in terms of how it can be solved, rather than whether it can be solved.
Edwin Land, the inventor of the instant photographic process, said, “Any problem can be solved using materials in the room.” Assume that there is a solution for every problem and that you have the potential to discover and implement it. Often, the solution is close at hand but requires patient search. Use the search process as a vehicle to discover calculated risks that have the possibility of high returns. This sort of positive expectancy destroys the major roadblock to effective problem-solving.
Always look upon the existence of a problem as an opportunity for discovering a creative and satisfying solution. Believe in your creativity—and that of others.