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How to make better decisions…faster

Today I want to share a story with you about a waffler.

No, I’m not talking about someone who makes chocolate chip waffles!!!

I’m talking about a client who “waffles” before making any decisions.

The waffler’s name is Jon. He is a Senior Vice President in a technology firm. He is a very empathetic leader, a great listener and a very collaborative team player.

But dear Jon’s waffling has led him into a very tricky situation.

His need to be liked has actually caused a lot of friction on his team.

One of Jon’s direct reports, Brenda, has been asking him for months to manage a certain part of the business. But Jon does not think that this will be a good decision for the business.

Jon, being such an accommodating leader, really wants to support Brenda.

So, he keeps telling Brenda that he will think about it, but in his heart he knows that it’s never going to happen.

By dragging out this decision and not being honest with Brenda, Jon is actually causing a lot of stress and conflict in their relationship.

While I am a huge fan of leaders being accommodating…there comes a time in every situation when a leader needs to make a decision….even if it is not a popular decision.

As a leader, an important part of your job is to make decisions that balance the needs of your people with the needs of the business.

For those of you who are super accommodating leaders …let me put it another way.

When someone on your team requests something…there are three answers that you can give them:

  1. Yes. Go for it. This is the answer they want to hear.
  2. No. That won’t be happening as it’s not the right decision for the business.
  3. Maybe. I’ll let you know.

Which answer do you think is better?

“No” or “maybe”?

If you said “no” you are correct. While “no” might not earn you the medal for “popular leader of the month”, it will allow your direct reports to move on. It will allow everyone involved to spend their energy on areas of the business that need them the most.

Being wishy washy is never helpful for anyone!

So, I’ll share with you what I told Jon earlier this week.

To be a more effective decision maker, here are three steps that you can follow:

  1. Write a list of the pros and cons for your dilemma so that you can make a decision based on facts and logic
  2. Choose either YES or NO (MAYBE should never be an option)
  3. Communicate your answer quickly

Please…leave the waffling for the chefs!!

(Real names have been changed for purposes of confidentiality).

Vanessa Judelman

Vanessa Judelman is an author, coach, and sought-after leadership expert. Over the past 20 years, she has created a proven formula to develop results-oriented leaders who feel empowered and confident in their job. Vanessa is the author of Mastering Leadership: What It Takes to Lead in Today’s Fast-Paced World. Order your copy here.

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