Want to kick butt in the career world? Then get comfortable making good and timely decisions. Leaders are known for being decisive and admitting their mistakes if they make the wrong decision. Fear of making a decision makes you come across as a bad leader.
My motivation for writing this post comes from my own experience of improving my ability to make decisions. Growing up I really struggled with even the simplest decisions of what to order for dinner, what to wear and what my plans were for Saturday night. As I got older the decisions naturally became a bit more complicated. I’ve come a long way since then, but looking back I realize how much time can be wasted and opportunities missed when you’re indecisive.
Start small. Start mastering small decisions because small decisions lead to big decisions. Whatever you do, don’t avoid small decisions at work because they will quickly snowball into big decisions and leave you looking unreliable and unworthy of being a leader. If you’ve heard the expression “putting out a fire” in regards to a tough situation at work, you understand that disasters happen. It is much easier to put out a kitchen fire than a forest fire.
On a side note, I think this is a simple strategy that can be applied to almost any area of your life. I’ve started thinking this way when it comes to decisions about money “Those shoes are amazing, but do I want to deal with the bill later when my goal is to have no debt?” Or relationship decisions “I disagree with him on this so I will discuss how I feel now rather than blow up about it in a week.” Or if you’re single: “Why should I agree to drinks with Mr. Obnoxious when I know I’m not into him and never will be. He’ll probably get the wrong idea and keep calling. I will run out of excuses so I should probably cut off communication now.” Nip it in the bud ladies; start small to avoid being in a big jam later.
Back to decision making in the workplace. Women need to be especially aware of their decision-making ability so they are not seen as pushovers, too emotional or too docile to deal with the aftermath of making a decision. Leaders who make good decisions do so in a timely, decisive and courageous manner.
Another trap I think young career women, including myself, fall into is asking others for their opinion. Keep in mind that these other people are coming from a completely different frame of reference than you are and ultimately this is your decision. Us Gen Y’ers are guilty of needing constant feedback and support. There are going to be times when you’re on your own. Girls with guts get ahead.
Lastly, remember that you do not need to have ALL the information to make a good decision. Having all the information is unrealistic so get used to having ENOUGH information and go from there. There is always more than one answer to any problem.
I will share another personal example. In my first job out of college, I was in sales and would constantly analyze the prospect’s financial situation and start crunching numbers and googling the company they worked at before I picked up the phone. I would waste so much time doing this because I felt that I needed to know every possible fact in order to answer to the prospect’s questions. When I would finally make the phone call, I would get their voice mail 99% of the time while my co-workers had already made 4 phone calls. I was so hung up on knowing all the facts that it ended up putting me behind my co-workers who were willing to pick up the phone knowing enough facts to get through the call.
I came across the following list of skills that leaders use in an article written by Moya K. Mason. I think this is a great list to take into consideration if you want to start being seen as a leader.
1. The ability to accept people as they are, not as you would like them to be.
2. The capacity to approach relationships and problems in terms of the present rather than the past.
3. The ability to treat those who are close to you with the same courteous attention that you extend to strangers and casual acquaintances.
4. The ability to trust others, even if the risk seems great.
5. The ability to do without constant approval and recognition from others.
Challenge yourself to be more decisive today and see how it goes. I have a feeling you will quickly feel more in control and respected by those around you.