Doubting yourself can be helpful to ensure you're coming to the right decisions, but chronic second-guessing will hurt your performance as a leader.
The more you doubt yourself, the more the decisions you make turn out poorly, Sydney Finkelstein, faculty director of Dartmouth's Tuck Center for Leadership, tells Harvard Business Review. For example, if you continue to second-guess hiring someone, the likelihood of the new hire succeeding goes way down.
"There is a risk of a self-fulfilling prophecy," Finkelstein says.
You need to continue pushing the company forward instead of overthinking things, Carolyn O'Hara writes in HBR. Here's how.
Ask, 'Is this a big decision?'
When you find yourself in decision purgatory, O'Hara writes, you should start with trying to change your perspective. How big is this decision and are the implications far-reaching? Chances are that it isn't the biggest decision in your life and the cost of being wrong is also probably not that big either. "Remind yourself that worrying is taking time away from the bigger things you have to deal with," Finkelstein says.
Talk to your gut
Following your instinct is valuable and can save you time, Finkelstein says. Even if you make a mistake, your gut can lead you to the right decision. Collect your decisions in a journal and record the instances when your gut was right and wrong. This will help you build confidence and stop second-guessing yourself in situations where you don't need to.
Tap your group of advisers
If your gut isn't giving you needed self-assurance, "have a group of people who are your sounding boards," Amy Jen Su, co-founder of executive leadership development firm Paravis Partners, tells HBR. Every leader needs some outside help to offer different perspectives and advice at least once in a while.
Don't think permanently
Decisions are rarely permanent, so make sure you are not putting a ton of pressure on a decision that could easily be changed. "When we pretend that decisions are final, we paralyze ourselves," Su says. "It's OK to make mistakes. Moving forward is what's important."