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.

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