If you're in a leadership position, decision making is part of your job. Your decisions will largely determine the type of the company you have moving forward.

It doesn't matter if you were a leader in the past or today. If you want to become a better leader, manager, employee, etc., it all starts with making better decisions.

Where you stand today is a combination of every decision you've made in your life. Some of these decisions have been life-altering, e.g. moving to a new city for a job. While others may not seem so significant, e.g. what you had for breakfast. No matter how big or the small the decision, it falls on your shoulders. 

You need to make strong decisions, daily, if you want to take your personal and professional life on the right path. Making better decisions starts with changing how you think about decision making. It's not all on "gut feel" as some would have you to believe. Rather, great decisions are founded on having principles behind them. 

1. Think about risk mitigation.

While playing quarterback in college, I had one coach who said it to me best, "don't compound mistakes." He elaborated, if your teammate falls down, don't try and overcompensate by throwing a long ball to another receiver--that's poor decision making. Instead throw the ball away. Losing a down is a much better decision than losing the ball.

So unless I had a high percentage play, I'd be okay with losing a down. It protected the team against the downside. Business is no different.

When Richard Branson was starting his airline, Virgin Atlantic, he was in an interesting position. He was running a very successful record label at the time, but he knew he wanted to change the in-flight experience everyone was accustomed to.

There was only one issue. Starting an airline isn't cheap.

What Branson did next was a lesson on risk mitigation all entrepreneurs should take to heart. He negotiated a price for a second-hand 747 from Boeing, with one very important condition. That was if the airline was not successful he would be able to hand back the plane a year later. This protected Virgin from the potential downside.

For yourself, look at your next decision and ask yourself, "What does the worst case scenario look like?"

2. Own your decisions.

Passing the buck is a sign of weak leadership. Whenever a decision made by your organization, department, etc., doesn't work out that's on you. Being a leader doesn't mean you have to make perfect decisions, but it does mean you need to be accountable for all decisions.

On the flip-side, if your decisions positively affect your business you should give all credit to your people and practice humility. For an example of this, look at professional athletes like Tom Brady or Lebron James. These two undoubtedly carry teams to victories and championships, however, they give all the credit to their teammates and coaches--that's effective leadership. It's effective because it lets the people on their teams know they value them and their contribution to the success of the team.

3. Be willing to change course.

When I started my business, it was an online magazine. I made the decision that we were going to go that route and make a profitable business. It wasn't as profitable as I thought it would be, and we had to pivot. Around a year into running the magazine, I saw an opportunity to create content for brands and become a content marketing agency.

I wanted to create great stories, I wasn't married to doing it on one particular platform. So we pivoted and became storytellers, recording podcasts, video series, creating blog content, all for clients. At the end of the day, I'm able to do what I want and get paid for it, even if it isn't following my initial decision.

Published on: Jan 25, 2018