How you make decisions can determine your success as a leader

Some people believe leadership positions are awarded to those who aggressively seek opportunities to acquire the right skills to meet their career goals, while others believes leaders are born, not made. According to the Harvard Business Review, the true differentiating factor between a successful business leader and an average worker is the way he or she approaches and makes major decisions.

After analyzing interviews with five leaders who have served as CEO in different industries, it was revealed that their leadership development was born from the result of numerous pivotal decisions, not career planning. Each leader met challenges and made decisions with a strong sense of accountability and creativity that led to learning and development, according to HBR.

Furthermore, a survey of 500 college-educated individuals serving in professional careers indicated that inclusiveness in the decision-making process is a key differentiator in successful leadership. Survey respondents were asked to rate a series of statements based on their degree of agreement with them regarding leadership and decision-making. The statements most strongly tied to successful decision-making included:

  • Before making a decision at a critical time, I invested time and effort to explore multiple perspectives, needs and ideas through a proactive dialogue with experts and stakeholders.
  • During the decision-making act, I weighed a variety of options.
  • Then, after making the decision, I explained it fully to all stakeholders to reduce the stress of change among those affected.

This decision-making process is not to be equated with committee or consensus decision making, rather it is the inclusion of a variety of perspective and forming connections with experts and stakeholders that allow leaders to recognize both business opportunities and threats, and determine the best way to use and prevent them.

Making outreach and inclusion a consistent element of decision-making prevents insular thinking, presents opportunities to new ideas and collaboration and increases problem-solving capabilities, as well as the cohort of resources for implementation, according to HBR.  

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