Decisions – in your wheelhouse or out of your comfort zone?

Decisions – in your wheelhouse or out of your comfort zone?

9 years ago 0 0 2577

There are many times that people fail to make decisions, or make decisions that they just should not.

Sometimes deciding not to decide is a great course of action, and sometimes it is harmful because things that need to happen cannot.

Understanding how you make decisions, and why you take some decisions and avoid others, is a critical function of a great leader.

Putting it simply, leaders understand the difference in a decision that is ‘not in their wheelhouse’ (not a decision that they should take) versus one not in their comfort zone (one they are scared to take).

This relates to individuals as well as teams.

I have seen individuals rush to take decisions that they should never have taken which have led to catastrophic outcomes in the business.  Often this has to do with ‘agitation management’- the person feels out of control, so they rush to take actions because the act of deciding feels like they gain control over something.  However, this feeling of comfort and control is valuable to them, but the outcomes are terrible for the organisation.

I have also seen senior leaders too scared to act, getting paralysed by group think and fear.  Not deciding means they missed millions of dollars of opportunities.

One of the biggest issues is that individuals and teams are not sure what decides they can take and which they cannot, as well as how decisions should be made.

If these aspects are not clear, bad decisions are made.

I remember once that a team charged with investigating a new product concept failed to make a decision simply because they had not worked out ‘how’ the decision would be made.  They could not get consensus, and could not settle on a majority vote because that had not been agreed to beforehand (the dissenters were adamantly sticking to their opposition).  This shot the ability to decide in the foot, the opportunity was lost, and the competitors stole the idea out from under them.  The decision was in their ‘wheelhouse’, but because they did not have a process for deciding, the decision was not taken and the opportunity lost.

We are all faced at times with things that put us out of our comfort zones.  It is how we respond to them that determines our long term success.  A few tips to help you make better decisions:

  • Ask yourself- ‘is it really my decision to make’?  Is it in my wheelhouse or not?
  • Determine a process for deciding, both on your own or in groups.  How will you analyse options and make a final choice?
  • What does the decision, or taking the decision, mean about you?  Often taking the decision can raise identity or self-worth questions which are tough, so we avoid the decision (or rush through it) to protect ourselves.
  • What is at stake?  What is the nature of the outcome and it’s consequences?
  • Who can help me or advise me on this decision?

There is both art and skill in making great decisions.  If it is in your wheelhouse, it is not the level of comfort that should direct your decision, but rather the outcomes and consequences.  If it is not in your wheelhouse, then regardless of how uncomfortable ‘not deciding’ feels, your job is not to act.

I invite you to think about your decision making style and strategy, and ask the question: “Is it in my wheelhouse, or out of my comfort zone?”.  Then you can make the right decision about deciding.


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