The ability to make decisions is a major part of any leaders job. We make decisions all day, and sometime these decisions affect many other people.
Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, shares 4 rules he has for making difficult decisions in an article written by Richard Feloni on Business Insider. His perspective is good. The main points are his, the comments below are mine:
#1) Don’t act on an emotional response.
Branson shares that a negative emotional response is just as bad as a positive emotional response when it comes to making a decision. Take a deep breath and don’t act on your first impulse. Many times your first reaction isn’t your best.
#2) Find as many downsides to an idea as possible.
“Branson carefully considers everything that could go wrong before he goes forward with a decision.” Sometimes in our excitement about a new idea we forget to look at the risk, at the negative implications, and at the continued impact. This usually happens when we are in a hurry and want to make a quick decision. Take some time to study the idea from all sides. Get some others to take a look at it as well.
#3) Look at the big picture.
Branson shares that before he makes a decision, he takes a look at how it will affect all of his other projects. Don’t be so focused on the decision that you forget to take a step back and see the big picture. Every decision we make affects other people and other decisions. As a leader, you need to spend time looking at the big picture and keep that perspective in mind.
#4) Protect the downside.
Branson learned at a young age to “protect the downside” by limiting possible losses before moving forward with a new venture. There is always a downside to a decision. Sometimes this downside is large and worth the risk. Sometimes it’s hard to really see the downside. Plan for this and in anticipation of your decision, address those that will be most affected.
Simple reminders that may help you make better decisions. With the next decision you make, make these 4 tips a “habit” as you think through the details of every decision you make.