Making Tough Decisions

Executives many times have to make tough decisions to keep the business on track. Its just the way the job is. But the toughest of decisions comes in the gray areas. These are cases where you and your team mine all the data you can, and do all the analysis you can yet the situation seems inconclusive. Under such circumstances its easy to become paralyzed and seek any available route. But it is your responsibility as a leader to judge the situation fairly and take the right decision.

Your judgement is critical in moving the organisation forward. Yet your judgement is limited by your thinking, feelings, experience, imagination, and character. But by relying on five principles you can improve your chances of making better informed and effective decisions every time even with incomplete, unclear data, divided opinions and different interest.

Through history leaders have found themselves in situations where they must make tough decisions. By relying on these principles they were able to make decisions that reflect the ingenuity of the brightest of minds and compassionate human spirit. Effective executives rely on them to make better decisions and I’m sure it will help you and your team in navigating through tough decisions. When next you have a tough decision to make, don’t get upset, relax and use the following principles:

1. Every decision has a net consequence
2. Your office is defined by your core obligations
3. Effective decisions must take cognisance of the world as it is
4. Every organisation must stay true to its identity
5. You live with your decisions

Let’s review them one after another.

Every decision has a net consequence

You have to understand that every decision carries a real world effect. So difficult questions are ever hardly resolved in a flash of intuition. So you need to thoroughly and analytically consider all courses of action available to you in terms of real life human consequences of each option.

Let go of your presumptions, and get your team together and list all possible options, considering who will be helped or hurt, short term and long term by every option possible. This is not the same as cost benefit analysis, so you should take a broad, deep, concrete, imaginative, and objective look at the full impact of your choices. Indeed it is difficult to predict with accuracy the full impact of any action but what’s important is that you walk from the position of love, see others the way you see yourself. Knowing that your decision on gray issues carry real life consequences which affects the lives of people and communities. So its important to take the time to open your mind, assemble the right team, and analyze your options through the lens of love.

Your office is defined by your core obligations Your position as a business leader is defined by your obligations. You are obligated to both share holders and other stake holders in your business. But besides this is our moral responsibility to safeguard and respect the lives, rights, and dignity of our fellow men and women. All of us owe this to ourselves and our world. When you have a hard call to make, step out of your comfort zone, put yourself in the shoes of others especially the ones likely to be affected by your decision. How would you feel in their position? What would you react if someone else were to make this decision about someone related to you? How would you want to be treated? What would you see as fair? What rights would you believe you had? What would you consider to be hateful? You might speak directly to the people who will be affected by your decision, or find someone in your team to fish out that information. At your business school classes you were taught that your core responsibility is your company but you’ll need to understand that this is a broad statement that includes the environment, workers, government, customers and the community the company serves. You have serious obligations to everyone simply because you are a human being. When you face a gray-area decision, you have to think—long, hard, and personally—about which of these duties stands at the head of the line.

Effective decisions must take cognisance of the world as it is

American President, Donald Trump stated that success is knowing how the world works. He’s right! You need to consider the world as it is not as it is in Nollywood or how you wish it is. Take a real, pragmatic look at your issue. If you want to make a decision that will empower your team, a department, or your entire organization to move through a gray area responsibly and successfully, then you will have to consider your options in the light of how the world works. Great plans can turn out badly, and bad plans sometimes work. The world is dynamic, you don’t control everything. You can hardly have all the freedom and resources you need. So you must often make painful choices. Your people will pursue their own agendas, skillfully or clumsily, except they are persuaded to do otherwise. That is why, after considering consequences and duties, you need to think about how things really work. What are the possible solutions to your problem, which is most likely to work? Which is most resilient? And how resilient and flexible are you?