What Are Effective Methods to Help Leaders Develop Better Decision-Making Skills?

What Are Effective Methods to Help Leaders Develop Better Decision-Making Skills?

In the quest to sharpen leadership acumen, we've gathered insights from seasoned professionals on enhancing decision-making skills. From learning from failures to prioritizing with the Eisenhower Matrix, explore the diverse strategies shared by twelve experts, including Management Consultants and Executive Coaches, that can transform a leader's approach to making choices.

  • Foster a Culture of Learning from Failure
  • Embrace a Mindset of Continuous Learning
  • Balance Authenticity with Execution
  • Practice Problem Identification
  • Visualize Organizational Workload
  • Train with Decision-Making Frameworks
  • Implement Structured Reflection Sessions
  • Challenge Decisions with Red Teaming
  • Apply Structured Analysis
  • Enhance Skills with Scenario Planning
  • Identify and Overcome Internalized Bias
  • Prioritize with the Eisenhower Matrix

Foster a Culture of Learning from Failure

One method that I've found incredibly effective in helping leaders develop better decision-making skills is fostering a culture of learning from failure. I once worked with a team where our leader openly discussed his own past mistakes and the lessons he learned from them. This created an environment where everyone felt comfortable sharing their own missteps and analyzing what could have been done differently. By embracing failure as a stepping-stone to growth rather than a mark of incompetence, we were able to make more informed decisions collectively. This approach not only improved our decision-making but also encouraged innovation and resilience within the team.

Bassam Nammour
Bassam NammourManagement Consultant, Meirc

Embrace a Mindset of Continuous Learning

Sales leaders can enhance their decision-making skills by embracing a mindset of continuous learning and adaptability. Cultivating a deep understanding of your market and customers is essential, as this knowledge is the compass for sound decisions. Implement a data-driven approach using metrics and analytics to guide choices and measure outcomes.

They can foster open communication and collaboration, where insights and perspectives from diverse team members can contribute to more informed and effective decisions. Ultimately, the best sales leaders balance intuition with insight, making decisions that propel their team and business forward.

Steven Rosen
Steven RosenExecutive Coach, STAR Results

Balance Authenticity with Execution

The best decisions come from a place of authenticity; being real and genuinely interested in the best outcome, along with the ability to execute effectively. Leaders who can direct teams to realize the end game are the ones that make a name for themselves and the organization they represent. Leaders need to understand the risks and rewards of the options and determine the best path for those involved—the individuals, teams, and organization. Soliciting and incorporating input from those closest to the situation is essential. The post-decision work is also critical in evaluating your actions and outcomes for future similar events and continuous improvement. Finally, celebrate the success with those involved.

Maggie Debner
Maggie DebnerExecutive Coach and Consultant, HR MD Consulting

Practice Problem Identification

In my experience with leader L&D, the simplest solutions are the ones that tend to be more effective, since most leaders are usually not in the sort of environment where they can take the time to calmly use a framework like OODA. They have a lot on their plates and often need to make snap decisions. What worked best with the people I worked with were exercises that helped them develop the ability to correctly identify the source of a problem, as that can be done quickly in the moment, and the impact of addressing the right issue quickly cannot be overstated in leadership roles. It involves drilling down from first impressions to underlying principles and relies on the deep subject and company knowledge that a leader needs to have in their position to be successful.

Greg Listopad
Greg ListopadConsulting Partner, November Consulting

Visualize Organizational Workload

One effective method I've used to help leaders enhance their decision-making skills involves addressing the common misconception that their organizations can handle everything simultaneously. I make it clear that overloading teams leads to inefficiencies and delays. To tackle this, I introduce a simple visual tool—a Word document that lists all current projects. This helps leaders prioritize by clearly showing the volume of work and the importance of each project. This visualization aids in managing workload and refining focus, which in turn sharpens decision-making by making priorities clear and manageable.

Rafael Sarim Özdemir
Rafael Sarim ÖzdemirFounder & CEO,

Train with Decision-Making Frameworks

Training on frameworks for leadership decision-making is a good way to get measurable improvement over time. One of my favorites is the OODA Loop, which stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. There are a lot of other frameworks out there, but this is the one that I think is most realistic to do consistently and train your brain to do automatically. It is what many people tend to do naturally, but not all the time, so the trick is to make your brain always go through this process when making a business decision rather than only some of the time.

Dragos Badea
Dragos BadeaCEO, Yarooms

Implement Structured Reflection Sessions

A method that I have found to be particularly effective for enhancing leaders' decision-making skills is implementing structured reflection sessions before and after meetings where they will be making key decisions. By carefully planning conversations and reviewing the outcomes of their decisions and the thought processes that led to them, leaders can gain insights into their decision-making and improve their judgment over time. This practice encourages mindfulness, confrontation of bias, and learning from experience, which are critical parts of the journey towards refining leadership decision-making capabilities.

Tamica Sears
Tamica SearsHR Consultant, Sears Coaching

Challenge Decisions with Red Teaming

One method I’ve found quite effective in helping leaders in decision-making is rather controversial but still brings results. The process is called 'red teaming' or 'devil’s advocate.' Through this, I take all of my team leaders and put them against another team that purposefully challenges all of their decisions. Some might not like this type of confrontational approach, but the fact that all of their ideas are challenged (in a controlled, friendly manner) allows them to find blind spots. The decisions are better polished, and it also fosters psychological safety, as the 'red team' can counter with opinions without fearing retribution.

Jason Vaught
Jason VaughtPresident, Equipping Entrepreneurs

Apply Structured Analysis

One effective method for developing better decision-making skills, which I've integrated at Tech Advisors, is the structured decision-making process. This method involves clear steps, starting from defining the problem to evaluating the outcomes post-decision. We encourage leaders to start with a comprehensive plan that outlines the decision to be made, gather relevant data, and then set a deadline to ensure timely decision-making.

We also use tools like decision-making matrices to visually compare options and their potential impacts, allowing leaders to assess the best course of action based on a structured analysis. This approach reduces the cognitive load and helps in making more informed decisions by narrowing down choices and focusing on the most viable options.

Using this structured approach helped our team choose the right security framework for a client's network. By evaluating each option against set criteria, we ensured that the chosen framework offered scalability for future needs. This decision-making process led to a 20% reduction in vulnerability incidents for the client, demonstrating the effectiveness of structured decision-making in improving outcomes.

Konrad Martin
Konrad MartinCEO, Tech Advisors

Enhance Skills with Scenario Planning

At Parachute, we use a structured scenario-planning method. This involves creating specific, realistic scenarios related to our business challenges and asking leaders to navigate these situations. We focus on cultivating a strategic mindset by encouraging leaders to analyze data, consider various outcomes, and make decisions in a controlled, yet dynamic environment. This approach has proven to enhance their ability to assess risks and make informed decisions under pressure.

A recent case study within our cybersecurity team involved using scenario planning during a simulated network breach. Leaders were tasked with responding in real-time, making quick decisions based on limited information. The exercise improved their response strategies significantly, reducing our incident response time by 25% in subsequent real incidents. This improved the team's practical decision-making skills, demonstrating the value of hands-on simulation in leadership development.

Elmo Taddeo
Elmo TaddeoCEO, Parachute

Identify and Overcome Internalized Bias

Identifying internalized bias has helped me develop many candidates as leaders.

As a recruiter, it's up to me to help applicants and employees reach their true potential, and that means encouraging them to trust their own decisions. So often, those from marginalized communities hold themselves back without realizing it.

So, when I'm working with a client to find leaders with swift decision-making skills, I interrogate my candidates thoroughly. Many times, they have the skills required to land the role and succeed, but not the confidence. They've taken systemic bias in the workforce and turned it into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Working through these false ideas and stereotypes helps them become leaders with capability and quick thinking.

Linn Atiyeh
Linn AtiyehCEO, Bemana

Prioritize with the Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower Matrix is a great way to help leaders develop their decision-making skills because they can visually place tasks inside the tool to determine what action should be taken. For example, if something falls under 'Important' and 'Urgent,' a leader can confidently make the decision to prioritize that task. If it lands under 'Not Important' and 'Not Urgent,' the leader can feel better about pushing it aside.

Kelli Anderson
Kelli AndersonCareer Coach, Texas General Insurance

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