The Decision Deficiency: How a Leader Can Suffocate Success

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The Decision Deficiency: How a Leader Can Suffocate Success

decision deficiency - group decision making

Today’s leaders are defined by their leadership styles, with executives like Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and Jeff Bezos making headlines nearly every day regarding their innovation, influence, and power. While their management philosophies and beliefs vary greatly, though, they all have one trait in common: They are excellent decision makers.

For some people, decision making is easy and inherent. For others, the undertaking is nearly impossible – provoking inner demons and negative thoughts. In fact, leaders can quickly earn bad reputations due to their decision deficiencies, turning a few poor choices or passed opportunities into lifelong career obstacles.

Decisions are critical to business success; without them, there is no way to stay aligned with your enterprise’s mission, vision, and goals. Thus, when leaders fail to make solid judgments, the effects can be felt throughout your entire organization.

Why is it so hard to make a decision?

A decision deficiency is an underlying issue – or issues – that hinder the decision-making process. Many managers exhibit the same symptoms, like procrastination or impulsiveness, but have completely different underlying problems.

There are many theories about why the decision-making process is so difficult, but in business, decision deficiencies typically fall into five categories:

  1. I can’t commit. Managers who live life with a trial-and-error mentality often have depression, anxiety, or low self-esteem. They either feel like there is no good option, or they are not capable of choosing correctly.
  2. I’m overwhelmed. With so much data at our fingertips, the decision-making process can seem insurmountable. However, sometimes, leaders convolute the process themselves by overcomplicating things.
  3. I don’t know how. Making a decision is like riding a bike. If no one ever taught you how to do it, you can’t just hop on a bike one day and will yourself to ride it. Even the most brilliant minds may have never learned the decision-making process.
  4. I can’t handle the trade-off. Some leaders have a hard time staying objective when a decision may personally impact them or people that they know. And if they cannot be impartial, their judgments will always be flawed.
  5. I’m exhausted. The phrases “decision fatigue” and “indecision fatigue” are real. Some managers simply have no mental capacity left to make a decision – especially if their current process involves prolonged, intense debates or never-ending research and analysis.

How can bad decision-making processes impact your organization?

Doing things right is one thing; doing the right things is another. The adverse impacts that result from a poor decision-making process can extend far beyond the decisions themselves, choking the life out of an organization.

Decision deficiencies can:

  • Ruin morale. If employees believe that their ideas are not fairly evaluated, they will begin to feel disconnected with the mission and vision.
  • Create stagnation. Without morale, new ideas and suggestions to improve the organization, its products, or its services will cease to exist.
  • Instigate a perception of bias and cronyism. If a leader seems to favor one person’s opinion over another, negativity will spread across the organization like a cancer.
  • Crush productivity. When employees stop caring, it shows. Sick days will go up, and output will go down.
  • Push human capital away. Eventually, attrition rates will increase, and knowledge will just walk out the door.

There’s hope.

All is not lost – even if you are the one with the decision deficiency. Decision-making skills can be taught, practiced, and refined. As long as you or your organization acknowledge the deficiency, it can be remedied.

Remember: Your organization is not a product of business circumstances, but rather, a product of its decisions.

© 2017 Definitive Business Solutions. All Rights Reserved.

John Sammarco has thirty-five years of experience leading, managing, and consulting to top public and private sector organizations, and has over twenty years of experience in facilitating complex group decisions. John founded Definitive Business Solutions in 2003, which provides world-class group decision-making solutions to increase efficiency, boost ROI, and reduce risk associated with business and technology investments. In 2016, John developed Definitive Pro™, which helps groups build consensus and make multi-criteria decisions.