Six Leadership Decision-Making Dilemmas

Decision-making is an every day occurrence for all leaders. They are constantly being asked to evaluate one choice against another often without all the facts or information. Navigating through a very ambiguous set of circumstances is the way of the modern workplace. For some of us, living in the “gray” zone rather than working in a clear cut “black and white” space can create intense stress. Not only does this cause some leaders to make poor decisions but can actually paralyze us to make no decision at all. Many of the participants in my leadership workshops face imperfect decision-making challenges. The only thing they do know is their team and organization are depending on them to take the plunge one way or another. A decision is on the line and that means taking action.

Six Leadership Decision-Making Dilemmas:

1. Have I Defined The Problem Correctly?

When faced with a decision it is essential to have a clear understanding of what the problem is and isn’t. Take time to analyze what it is that needs to be decided before just jumping to a solution.

2. Do I Have All Or Most Of The Facts?

This initial question is often overlooked when we are rushing to meet the expectations of our customers or team. We don’t stop to think whether we really have enough information to reach a good decision. Leaders need to ask themselves:

 3. Where Should I Look For Additional Data?

The big dilemma of knowing where to obtain more complete background on an issue is key to arriving at a good decision. For example, one leader I worked with preferred to do more of their research online while another set up meetings with people on other teams. Maybe certain analyses need to be conducted. Be creative in identifying where to obtain all the information you need.

4. Who If Anybody Should Be Part of This Decision?

Another critical issue is to recognize whether other individuals should be part of the decision-making process. Some decisions leaders can take care of themselves while others need more voices. Think about:
  • Do I need to consult with team members before making the decision?
  • Is this decision something I should run by my boss?
  • Do I have the complete authority to run with this decision or is it better to include others?

5. What Does My Timeframe Look Like?

As leaders know only too well, decisions often have a deadline that must be honored. We need to be aware of when a decision needs to be reached and keep that in mind throughout our evaluation period. Sometimes that means making a decision without all the facts. We need to just decide which direction to go or choice to make based on limited and possibly ambiguous data. But we have to decide.

6. How Will I Share The Decision?

The final dilemma is deciding how to deliver the decision and identifying the people who need to hear or read it.
  • Should I share the decision with senior leaders first?
  • Should I set up a status meeting?
  • Who may be upset with the decision and should I connect with them one-on-one first?
  • Would a written report be helpful in explaining the decision?
What decision- making dilemmas have you faced in your leadership? How did you resolve them? Related: 6 Questions to Answer Before You Resign