Decision Making

Leadership Skills: Decision Making

Decision making is one of the most crucial leadership skills. Some people make decisions without any difficulty, while others struggle. Are you having trouble making a decision? Do you feel overwhelmed by all the choices you have, and aren’t sure how to pick just one? No matter how big or small those decisions might be, I can teach you how to strategically:

  • Define your decision and come up with alternatives.
  • Determine what criteria you’ll need to help you make the decision.
  • Make the decision

“If we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything is ready, we shall never begin.” – Ivan Turgenev, famous 19th-century Russian novelist, poet and playwright



What is it that you need to make a decision about? Maybe you have several choices to make, but start with one. Ask yourself a couple of questions that are applicable to your situation, such as:

“What do I want to be doing for the next 6 months?” “What business am I going to start?” “What aspect of my business do I want to grow?”


Determine your primary goal and write it down. For example, you might want to grow your business over the next six months. Therefore, your goal sentence might be: “I want to earn 25% more within the next 6 months.”


After you’ve written your goal sentence, begin brain-storming a list of ideas for how to achieve the goal. Below are some rules for brainstorming:

– Write all ideas down – ideas are neither bad or good–they’re just ideas!

– Do not judge or analyze the idea – just write it down.

– Make the process fun!

You do not have to generate a list of ideas in one sitting, but you may need to set some limits around how much time to spend creating your list. Be creative in how you capture your ideas. Carry a small notebook with you so when an idea comes to you, you’ll be prepared and write it down immediately.

I put stickies (Post-It notes) and pens in my purse, car, and bedroom, so whenever and wherever I generate an idea I have a way to capture it. When I’m ready, I collect the stickies and add them to a master list I keep in my office. Just do whatever is easiest for you!

After you feel you’ve completed your options list (or when the time you’ve given yourself to make the list has run out), ask someone you trust to read over your ideas. This person needs to be someone who has a positive attitude and is supportive of your efforts! The person may come up with some options you hadn’t considered. Write them down! Remember, you’re not judging the ideas–just recording them at this stage.



Identify no more than 4 or 5 criteria that you will use to determine how well your options achieve the goal you’ve established.

Decision criteria provide checkpoints to measure your options against your goal. Typical criteria fall into two categories:

Do-ability (do I have the money, time, expertise?)Likelihood of Success (do they meet the goal in time, revenue, fun factor?).


Using the criteria you’ve defined, evaluate each option. This process can be as simple, or complex, as you desire, and may be qualitative or quantitative. You may need to allow some time to experiment a bit with some ideas to test them out and determine how well they meet each criteria.



Sometimes the winner is obvious; you’ll just pick it and go with it. Or, you may immediately notice certain ideas drop to the bottom of the list and just need to be deleted because they do not support your business needs. When one option is not standing out among the others, you may have to prioritize the options by weighting the criteria to help you evaluate the alternatives and make your decision.


Keep in mind, just because an idea may not fit with your current focus; it may serve you later. Create a place to store those ideas–an “idea vault” to tap into the next time you need good ideas!

Keys to successful decision-making:

  • Write it all down!
  • Clarify the decision you are making
  • Know your goals
  • Be creative in coming up with options
  • Trust your gut
  • Don’t procrastinate!

Copyright Terri Zwierzynski – Accel Innovation, Inc.

Leadership Skills: Negotiating

Leadership Skills: Negotiating Without The Conflict

At some stage in our lives we all are going to need to know how to negotiate. Yet, so few of us know the basic skills before embarking on life changing purchases or decisions.

This article is written for those who want to feel more confident in the basic skills of negotiating. These are the skills I have learnt that have made all the difference in the world to my approach to asking for what I want. There are plenty of people who would like to know these skills which, believe me, don’t come naturally, yet they can make a significant difference to your sense of confidence when you learn them.

Here are 8 keys to learning how to negotiate well (for people who hate conflict).

1. Know the outcome you want.

Do you want a win-win outcome where both parties benefit? Or a win-lose outcome where someone (presumably the other party) is not happy with the result?

It is important you know what type of outcome you want because that will affect the long term relationship you have with the other party. Win-win outcomes are beneficial where you have an ongoing relationship. For example, when you negotiate a pay rise, you don’t want your boss to feel he/she is the ‘loser’. However, if you are buying a car from a car lot, you may not be so concerned about whether the car salesperson feels as though they ‘won’ in the negotiation.

2. Know your ‘position’.

How important is this deal to you? How much do you need it? Could you walk away from the deal? What alternatives do you have? What is your “bottom line” and what (if anything) are you prepared to concede? You should not start negotiating until you have thought through and considered all of the consequences for all of the different outcomes that may eventuate.

3. Know your counterpart’s ‘position’.

Try to work out what is important to them in the deal. When you know that you have an advantage. Try not to reveal what is important to you! Keep a poker face and play your cards close to your chest.

4. Work out different scenarios ahead of time.

Being caught by surprise will NOT strengthen your position! Think through all the different possibilities which may eventuate and plan for each and every one of them. It is useful to brainstorm and write down on a piece of paper what could possibly happen. For example, if they said, “XYZ” – I would respond with, “ABC”. This way you can be prepared for just about anything that may happen.

5. Know yourself.

Know your own weaknesses. If you are a more gentle personality your natural aversion to conflict may toss you into concessions that aren’t necessary. If this is you, learn about yourself and take counter action. If you are overly stubborn and never give way to minor points, know this about yourself. Your stubbornness, holding out for 100% your own way, may cause you to lose a really great deal.

6. Back up your position with logic.

If you negotiate from a purely emotional position, emotion will sway you from your position. Fear of loss, sense of failure, conflict, pressure, sentiment! All can be applied to sway you from sticking to what you really want. When negotiating for a pay rise know what similar companies are paying for similar work. When placing an offer on a house substantiate your lower offer with the costs of repaving the driveway, renovating the bathroom, renovating the entrance or whatever you see needs doing. This is a much stronger position than plucking a number out of thin air.

7. Work out what you can concede.

Find something in the deal that for you will not be important but for your counterpart may be of significance. This will be like gold to you. A ‘sweetener’ can be what clinches the bargain in your favour. You will need to be poker faced and pretend this is a big deal to concede! Save this item for the final offer you make.

8. Have an exit strategy.

If everything goes against you, you will be saved by your contingency planning. If you don’t feel in control, stop talking immediately. Make sure you are listening to the other person. If you are doing most of the talking the chances are you are doing most of the conceding. Offer to break the meeting and reconvene at another time when you have been able to consider what has already been put forward.

Skillful negotiation takes time and practice. Armed with these basic negotiation skills it doesn’t matter how reticent you may feel towards negotiating an outcome you want. By applying these keys you will be well positioned to improve your negotiation skills and feel more empowered when approaching tricky situations.