As a leader, you’re faced with dozens of decisions every day. These might range from relatively small, tactical decisions, to more significant operational ones, to strategic decisions that may impact the entire organization. The decision-making process depends on the situation — you may delegate it to someone else, involve individuals or teams in the decision-making process, or determine that the responsibility falls squarely on your own shoulders. With so much already on your plate, how can you streamline the decision-making process?
Start by considering:
- How much stakeholder buy-in is needed to support implementation?
- How much time can you spend making this decision?
- How important is this decision to the people in your organization?
- Who needs to be involved in order to make the most well-informed decision?
- Could this decision be an opportunity to develop someone on your team?
- Will there be better long-term buy-in if you involve a broader team in this decision?
Use your answers to think about which decision-making approach is right for your situation:
- Decide and Announce. Use this approach when you already have the clarity/knowledge to make the best decision. Make a decision with little or no input, then announce the decision to those who will be affected by, or must carry out the decision.
- Consult and Decide. Use this approach when others may have insight to help you better understand the issue. Ask selected individuals or teams for input (ideas, suggestions, information) and then make a decision after weighing all input.
- Consensus. Use this approach when you require and value input from everyone in the group, and commitment from the entire group is needed to move forward with the decision. A consensus decision is one that each member of the team is willing to support and help implement. Everyone in the group has an opportunity to give their opinion and to understand the implications of various options. All members, including the leader, are a part of the conversation and have the same power to support or block proposals.
- Delegate with Constraints. Use this approach when there is an opportunity to develop an employee’s leadership capabilities and/or to establish someone in a position of authority. Define the decision that needs to be made, clarify the constraints on the decision, and delegate it to a specific individual or group. Then, don’t alter their decision as long as it adheres to the constraints.
The most effective, empowered leaders are the ones who not only think about the decision itself, but also the decision-making process — by considering who will be impacted and who needs to be involved.