Ten Keys to Great Decision-Making (Part 2)

Effective decision-making is essential for leaders. In a previous post, I shared the first five of ten keys to making great decisions. Those keys include:

  • Acknowledge Your Core Values
  • Gain Adequate Information
  • Ask the Right Questions
  • Seek Advice & Input from Other Leaders
  • Reflect on Past Experience

The first five keys are often the most common. While they certainly provide a solid foundation for decision-making, these next five keys shouldn’t be ignored:

6. Ask Yourself, “What Would a Leader Do?” – This is a very valuable question. The only way to find out what a leader would do is to learn about leadership, watch leaders in action, and interact regularly with good leaders. This learning process will help you cultivate a leadership perspective, and better understand how good leaders think and act. When we don’t ask, “What would a leader do?” we tend to lose sight of a decision’s ability to influence others.

7. Listen to Your Gut – There are times in decision making where you have to lean on your intuition. I like how John Maxwell describes intuition. He refers to it as “informed insight” and defines it as, “an inner sense or hunch that is based on the widest possible scope of input to any situation.” You gain insight by doing your homework. Then you combine that insight with what you sense or feel. It’s usually not healthy to make a decision based on only one of these components. You need the facts and you need to listen to your gut. Maxwell continues, “Hard data and intuition are not enemies, nor are they like oil and water. Conversely, they are more like a hand in a glove, they fit into each other, and support each other. The glove gives the hand warmth and the hand gives the glove shape.” When we don’t listen to intuition, we often miss what’s happening below the surface of a decision.

8. Seek the Holy Spirit for Direction – Evidence of the level of our dependence on God is often seen through the decisions we make. Failure to actively seek the wisdom, direction, and leadership of the Holy Spirit will show itself when we tackle big decisions tapping only the limited source of our own understanding. God already knows the answers to the problems you are facing now and will face long into the future. Accessing His wisdom is the best decision you can make when making decisions. Without the direction of the Holy Spirit, our decision-making is void of God’s wisdom.

9. Determine if it’s the Appropriate Timing – Some of the best decision have been sabotaged because they were introduced at the wrong time. We must remember that every decision we make has been growing in our minds sometimes for weeks or months. When we surprise people with a decision, we falsely assume they will be as excited about it as we are. But many times the decision gets serious questions and creates major havoc for a leader. Why? Because we expect people to buy-in to a decision in a matter of minutes when it took weeks to buy into it ourselves. Don’t waste your greatest decisions because you jumped the gun on implementing change. Without the right timing, decisions create more problems than they solve.

10. Assess Whether or Not There’s Acceptance from Key Influencers – Failure to gain buy-in from those with the greatest influence can result in the death of an idea or decision. Worse yet, it can create tremendous friction between leaders and those with influence. Influencers are often the gatekeepers to the life of a decision. They can make it happen or stop it dead in its tracks. One of the best keys to ensure your decisions meet success with influencers is to practice the “Head Start” Principle. The Head Start Principle says, “Give your key influencers a head start on the decision before going public with your decision.” By meeting one-on-one with key leaders in your ministry or organization, you will be able to gain perspective, buy-in, and identify concerns or red flags well enough in advance to make necessary adjustments to your decisions. Without acceptance from key influencers, decisions lose traction and burn bridges.

Questions: Which of the decision-making keys above is missing in your decision-making toolkit? Which have you found most helpful?