Over the years, I have encountered a lot of managers, directors, vice presidents, and (even) C-level executives who have a hard time "pulling the trigger" on a decision.

This is how a "culture of indecision" spreads like wildfire throughout a company. If employees see their boss can't make a decision, what lesson do you think they are going to take away from that? Not a productive one, I can tell you that.

As the CEO of your company, you can't get caught up in "paralysis by analysis." If you are stuck on a decision, ask yourself, "What's the worst thing that can happen if I make the wrong move?" No matter what you choose, it can't be as bad as what happens when you stay paralyzed--which is nothing (and a decision in itself).

If I could instill any one trait into your hard drive as a business leader, it would be to believe in your decision-making ability and have a sense of urgency. 

How good are you at making decisions? 

Chocolate or vanilla? Italian or Chinese? Beach or pool? 

Those are the fun ones--no downside. 

The more difficult ones are: hire or fire? Stay the course or pivot? Bootstrap or give up equity? 

These are the kinds of decisions that can keep a CEO up at night. And if too many nights go by without any action being taken, then they've officially become paralyzed by analysis.

So, how do you avoid this? And more importantly, how do you make better business decisions, more often?

1. Give yourself self-imposed deadlines for decisions.

This will feel very uncomfortable at first.

When faced with a difficult decision, set a date or time for you to come to a conclusion (the sooner the better). When that time comes, pull the trigger.

This is an extremely important part of sustaining success over the long term--and something I talk about at length in my book on entrepreneurship, All In. Sometimes you'll be right. Sometimes you'll be wrong. But either way, a decision is more valuable than sitting by waiting for an outside force to make the decision for you. 

What this forces is the habit of self-trust. Leaders of companies and organizations need to trust that somewhere in themselves, they already know the right answer. Putting a timer on things only encourages them to trust their intuition--instead of trying to logic their way through each and every obstacle.

2. Perfect is not the goal. It's about getting things done.

I have seen very mediocre business people become successful because of one trait and one trait only: their ability to get things done.

In business, especially, it's not about being the smartest, or the best positioned, or the more clever or creative. All those things help, but they all come second to progress. Without progress, without the ability to move from point A to point B to point C, those things don't matter. Nobody will want to work with you if you can't get things done.

Which means, as a business leader, it's your job to keep things moving forward.

No matter what.

3. Empower those around you to make their own educated decisions.

One of the root causes for "paralysis by analysis" in CEOs and founders is the fact that they've built their entire organization to be dependent upon them.

This is a huge problem.

As a leader, it's not your responsibility to make every decision by yourself. It's also not your responsibility to be at every meeting, or solve each individual person's problems for them.

Your job is to create systems and a culture that empowers people to make educated decisions on their own. Too many managers play it safe by not making decisions out of a fear of being wrong. This only means more work for whoever their boss is, and their boss, and their boss--all the way up to you.

Instead, flip the equation. Ask yourself how you can instill the same level of self trust in those around you, so they feel comfortable making as many decisions on their own as possible. The more you can empower others, the less little decisions you'll have to make--which means your time and effort can be spent mulling over the things that will truly impact the trajectory of your business.

Published on: Feb 20, 2018
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