As an executive, you’re faced with countless decisions. Some are big, some are small, but all require at least some level of attention and consideration. The volume of decisions to be made compounds with the pressure to make the “right” decision, and it can quickly become challenging to make quick and effective decisions.
Recent guests on The Daily Bolster podcast shared their practical advice for decision makers, highlighting techniques they’ve employed and recommend to others to help alleviate the stress of making decisions and enable you to make decisions you feel confident in for the long run.
Tip 1: Use a Framework
One key to effective decision making is knowing which decisions you need to make, and which ones you can delegate. Longtime CEO Bob Blumberg, who is a multi-time tech founder and advisor to early-stage companies, recommends leveraging a simple two-by-two matrix to identify when you need to be involved in a decision, or when you can pass the responsibility to another member of the team.
The matrix frames decisions on the spectrum of consequences versus familiarity. If the consequences are low and someone else has familiarity with the situation, that decision can easily be handled by someone else. When the consequences are high and you are the person with the most knowledge, that decision should likely rest with you.
The framework can be a powerful way for executives to enable other senior leaders to make and delegate decisions, too. As Bob explains on the podcast, “Not only does it mean I don't have to make every decision, it means I get a chance to train people in decision making where they're unfamiliar or where the consequences are big. It gives that person the matrix to use with their direct reports to help train them and help them grow in the organization with their own capabilities.”
Tip 2: Understand Your Biases
Personal bias comes into play in many parts of our personal and professional lives, and can particularly impact our decision making. Having awareness around your biases—and how they might influence your reactions—can be incredibly powerful in helping you evaluate your options from multiple angles and recognize when your opinion might be clouded.
David Siegle, the CEO of Meetup, outlined four biases that can impair your judgment when making decisions: recency bias, confirmation bias, status quo bias, and sunk cost bias. According to David, each of these can influence the way a CEO or senior executive responds to situations, and can potentially lead someone to make a decision that isn’t in the best interest of themself or the business. When making a decision, consider each of these biases and hold yourself accountable to truthfully evaluate whether one or multiple are leading you to make one decision versus another.
Tip 3: Record Your Decisions
The requirement to make decisions is a constant in an executive’s professional life, but it can be hard to learn from and improve your decision making skills. The only way you can learn from your decisions is to document them.
Nicole Glaros, multi-time entrepreneur, board member, and Business Advisor at Divirod, recommends taking the time to both track and review your decisions. “When you get the outcome, then you can look back and go, "All right, what was the decision that we made and what did we miss? What did we nail? What did we not see?" All of that stuff will help you make better decisions in the future, and that will increase your luck for having better outcomes.”
You can listen to each of these episodes of The Daily Bolster to hear everything Bob, David, and Nicole had to say about effective decision making. Don’t forget to subscribe to The Daily Bolster wherever you get your podcasts, and sign up to receive email notifications when a new episode is released.