Never Doubt Yourself Again: 7 Steps to Spot-on Decision-Making

The faster you make decisions, the faster things get done.

But women in leadership sometimes feel overwhelmed by all the decisions they have to make — and end up paralyzed by the fear that they’ll make the wrong one.

woman in glasses looking up with light idea bulb

You can put (at least some of) your fears to rest. Rely on this checklist for faster, better decision-making.

Research proven

It’s so effective, researchers found that leaders who followed it over three months achieved the results they expected 90% of the time.

What’s more, research authors of Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work found that managers who regularly follow all seven steps:

  • save 10 hours of discussion
  • decide 10 days faster, and
  • improve measured outcomes by 20%.

How to use the checklist

Making decisions can be complex, and there’s a lot on the line. What you decide affects you, your employees and your company.

The checklist is designed to help you move beyond biases you may not even recognize. It lets you take into account all the factors that affect decisions and their outcomes so you can make the best choices.

When you face decisions:

  1. Know the goals

Start by making a list of five preexisting company goals or priorities that will be impacted by your decision.

When you focus on what’s important to the overall good, you won’t ever find yourself coming up with other reasons to rationalize or justify your decision after the fact.

  1. Know your alternatives

Now you’ll want to make a list of at least three realistic alternatives to those you’re considering.

This step will take some effort and creativity. But researchers found that no other practice will improve decisions more than looking beyond the choices you think you have.

  1. Find what’s missing

You’ll want to write down the most important information you are missing. Even if you think you know every detail you think you should, consider what you wish you knew. That will help you identify key areas where you need more knowledge.

This is an important step because people are often so focused on what they know and end up ignoring what they don’t know.

  1. Look into the future

Now work at writing down the impact your decision will have one year from now.

Making a brief story of the outcome you imagine – or even a drastically different one – should give you a unique and useful perspective on what to do now.

  1. Call on a team

Ask a team of at least two stakeholders, but no more than six, to take a look at what you’re considering.

More perspectives can reduce your biases and increase buy-in for your ultimate decision. But asking for too many opinions has diminishing returns, so you’ll want to draw the line at a handful of people.

  1. Document your decision

Write down the ultimate decision, plus why and how much your team, boss and other stakeholders support it.

Putting this in writing should increase your commitment to the decision, help you gain more buy-in from those who need to support or abide by your decision and create a baseline to measure the results.

  1. Follow up

You’ll want to schedule a decision follow-up a month or two later.

When leaders review their decisions – whether alone or with a trusted stakeholder – they’re able to make corrections if it’s not going as expected and steer things in the right direction. Or they can just learn from – not gloat about — what’s on track.

Worth the try

It’s hard to disagree with the success behind this approach. If you can cut the number of discussions, make faster decisions and see better outcomes, it has to be worth a try.