What kind of decisions do you make as a leader? - HR Future helps people prepare for the Future of Work and is South Africa's leading print, digital and online Human Resources magazine.

What kind of decisions do you make as a leader?

Decisions are an important part of business activity. That’s because business happens at the speed at which decisions are made.

Slow decision making results in slow progress. Rapid decision making results in speedy growth. But the quality of decisions is just as important as the speed at which they’re made.

Decisions fall into two broad categories: good decisions and bad decisions. Good, effective, compassionate leaders make sound decisions that create value, growth and opportunity for all – their companies, their employees, their communities and their country. Weak, ineffective, incompetent and corrupt leaders make bad decisions – decisions that may benefit a select few but are of no value to anyone else.

We all make decisions based on what we think we know to be right and true. How, then, can you determine if the decisions you are making are good or bad decisions?

When you make decisions, assess the response to your decision. How did people react to your decision? Did they think it was a good decision or not? Also, who exactly thought your decision was good or bad?

Let’s take an example …

We are experiencing, in South Africa, the effects of many bad decisions made by some of our political leaders (no names – too many to mention). What has been the response to those bad decisions? Generally speaking, there has been a public outcry.

Now, imagine if you had made those bad decisions. Imagine if you had experienced the public outcry.

What would your response have been?

Assuming you were acting in good faith and did not have any personal agenda, you would be distressed to hear what others thought of your decision. If you had the emotional maturity, integrity and good faith to do what’s in the best interests of those you lead, you would re-examine your decision to establish if you had made the right one.

So you make a decision and then discover that everyone disagrees with your decision. What then? You have a choice. You can choose to see everyone else as “wrong”, as not knowing what you know. This response will result in your trying to justify why you made your decision. Or you will simply ignore what others are saying. 

If you want to know if the decisions you make are of value, try to assess the impact your decisions have on those around you. Of course, it’s important not to take into account the views of only those close to you. They might not tell you the truth because they might not want to upset you. They also might be keen to keep their jobs!

You’ve therefore also got to listen to those who think they don’t have anything to lose by airing their views. People with vested interests will never rock the boat, so you’ll never really get the truth out of them.

What do you do when you realise you’ve made a bad decision? You do the obvious … Acknowledge your mistake, apologise if you feel it is warranted, correct your mistake and move on. You will not lose respect. You will gain respect.

If you are making bad decisions because you’re in competent, that’s another matter but, if you make the occasional bad decision, face it and deal with it. You’ll find that people will not only respect you more, they’ll love you more too.

Good leaders all want to make good decisions. There are a number of ways to make good decisions. One of these ways involves listening to what others say. Few business leaders are prepared to get out on the shop floor to find out what the real people think. They dismiss them as being uniformed. The interesting thing is that, if you want to know what’s wrong with your business and what you need to do to fix it, just ask your employees. They’ll tell you. They know exactly what’s wrong but no-one asks them.

Make a decision that you will start making good decisions from now on. That will be a good decision!

Alan Hosking is the publisher of HR Future magazine, @HRFuturemag, and assists executives to prevent, reverse and delay ageing, and achieve self-mastery.

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