Leaders’ careers are often defined by the decisions they make and how well—or poorly—that they pay off. Consequently, veteran leaders as well as rank-and-file employees who aspire to manage their own teams would be well-served by a primer in the best practices of effective decision making. Take a look at three strategies to improve your decision making that you can apply right away.
While confidence might be inspirational, it isn’t necessarily an ingredient for effective decision making. Overconfidence, in fact, is the Achilles heel of rational decisions. Since overconfident leaders are more assured of the predictions upon which their decisions are based, they are more likely to overlook potential problems that may arise as a result of their choices and less likely to acknowledge their decisions or assumptions may be flawed. Making decisions based on blind confidence is a recipe for disaster, so instead, leaders should approach decisions with less certainty. As a result, they will weigh decisions more carefully and select outcomes with greater flexibility than their overconfident counterparts.
Make sure to perform your due diligence before you make a serious decision. Review how often similar decisions, either within your organization or the broader industry, bring about successful outcomes. For example, if you’re considering reorganizing a large department into two smaller ones, you may want to explore how often similar transformations have succeeded or failed at other organizations before reaching a decision. Doing so is a technique to avoid clouding your judgement with a so-called “inside view”—when you allow the particulars of the decision at hand to unduly influence your approach to it—and employ an “outside view” that bases decisions on existing precedents.
Consider the Odds
A basic understanding of probability will pay dividends for leaders. This skill teaches leaders to avoid certain cognitive biases that thwart effective decision making and even improve how well they make predictions. Furthermore, an appreciation of probability will strengthen leaders’ ability to conceive uncertainty since they can express the frequency or likelihood of a given outcome in numerical terms, thus making them more comfortable with uncertainty and adept at navigating it. Although learning probability can be a long-term process, its usefulness when making decisions means that it’ll be time well-spent.