8 Keys to Faster Decision-Making for Leaders | GP Strategies (2023)

Consider this—some sources indicate that the average person makes 35,000 decisions a day,* so the ability to make decisions quickly is hardwired into our brains. From what to wear to what to eat, we make decisions, often unconsciously, that impact the smallest details (How do you take your coffee?) and the overall trajectory of our lives (Will you marry me?). And while those personal decisions change our lives, as a leader, your decisions impact the individuals with whom you work, the teams you lead, and the organization or enterprise of which you are a part. We spend 8 hours a day at work, and the decisions we make at work determine the path of our career, govern our work relationships, and define our ability to drive results on our team. All of these decisions have an impact on the success of the overall organization.

Leaders in life-saving positions, such as military personnel or emergency room doctors, chose jobs where rapid and accurate decision-making is clearly critical. But in the age of digital disruption, speed in decision-making is also an expectation of other roles. Leaders across a wide range of industries are being asked to pick up the pace of the choices they make without compromising the quality of their decision-making.

The Expectation of Faster Decision-Making

(Video) Decision Making Games - Decision Making *48

Digital disruption has several implications for the speed of problem-solving and decision-making.

  • Data is more readily available quickly and transparently. No longer do leaders need to wait for weekly reports on client satisfaction—a quick scan of customer reviews can give them a pulse on what’s going well and where dissatisfaction with a product or service may be an issue. External sites such as Glassdoor and internal sites like Yammer provide a window into employee successes and challenges. Greater transparency with data means colleagues and team members are now privy to data once reserved for leaders alone.
  • White noise is increasing. With massive, unfiltered data, leaders encounter a great deal of white noise: extraneous information that may or may not need to be factored into a leader’s decision-making process. Being able to discern critical data from erroneous information is a necessary skill of digital leaders.
  • Competition is fierce. Access to information and technology allows new competitors and new startups to emerge more quickly. Leaders no longer have the luxury of a ramp-up time to determine how to outmaneuver a potential competitor. Staying ahead by making faster decisions is key.
  • Immediate gratification is anticipated. Because technology allows for speedier communication, speedier decisions are expected. Leaders, and the teams they lead, can text or use online collaboration platforms to send and receive real-time responses. The expectation of an immediate response or decision intensifies because technology exists that enables that decision to be made and communicated expeditiously.

Eight Ways to Faster Decision-Making

For the reasons stated above, leaders need to make decisions faster. No organization ever became successful by the analysis paralysis that often grips leaders and their teams. The bottom line is that faster decisions are better than no decisions. No one has ever left a meeting saying or thinking, “I hope we come out of this meeting with another meeting to think about these issues.”

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But does speedy decision-making differ greatly from the more plodding decision-making best practices of the past? Yes and no. We can apply the best practices of decision-making in a nimbler way to meet the swift pace of today’s workplace. Speed doesn’t mean sacrificing a thoughtful and deliberate approach. An agile decision-maker can be an accurate decision-maker. Faster decision-making is about using hacks and shortcuts and avoiding the tedious pitfalls of the past.

How to:

  • Flex frameworks – While an extensive fishbone diagram or decision-making protocol may not be practical in the moment, you can flex simple frameworks to help you think through your best choice. A basic pro/con analysis or a simplified decision matrix allows leaders to quickly make sense of the tradeoffs of their choice.
  • Chunk it up – Making a decision doesn’t imply you have to solve the entire problem. If you can’t address the larger challenge at hand, make a smaller decision, or series of smaller decisions, to create momentum and progress.
  • Anticipate – Notice patterns and increase your ability to anticipate a challenge that will require a solution. Recognizing patterns enables you to make a faster decision when faced with a similar challenge.
  • Use resources/support – Don’t be afraid to seek the input of others—even when speed is of the essence. Consulting with trusted colleagues to quickly bounce something off of can give you the outside perspective you may be lacking if you are making a decision in isolation.
  • Keep values and priorities top of mind – Consider a quick check-in with yourself to ask the question about whether or not the decision you are about to make is consistent with your values. Focus on what really matters and on the decisions that will have the most appreciable impact on the success of the team and the larger organization.
  • Go slow to go fast – There is great benefit to taking a deep breath to think through your decision, ask for more information, or treat a team member kindly even when a speedy response is required. By slowing down just a beat, maintaining trust, and communicating clearly, you will increase the confidence of your team members and colleagues. Taking the time to build up this relationship credit during non-peak times will serve you well when you need to move quickly. Having earned the confidence of your people, you can count on them to support you on a speedy choice.
  • Stay alert to biases – Be aware of and understand how confirmation bias, groupthink, and other cognitive traps can negatively affect your ability to make good decisions. Just being able to name these biases helps you to identify when you see them in play.
  • Bring your growth mindset to your decision-making – Recognize that if you make a decision and it doesn’t work out, you can benefit greatly from failing fast: You can test your assumptions, learn from your mistakes, and try again. When you make decisions with a growth mindset, you recognize that even failures and obstacles are opportunities for growth. Look at failed decisions as opportunities to learn and grow.

Digital disruption will continue to test leaders and those they lead to take in more information, process it quickly, respond, and execute decisions with speed. Developing habits that support quick decision-making just makes sense. The 35,000 decisions you make in a day create ample opportunity to increase the speed, and keep the accuracy of your choices. This faster decision-making approach will not only cultivate your credibility with your employees, but also grow the success of your organization.

(Video) How to Make Tough Decisions

* Wansink, Brian and Jeffery Sobal (2007). Mindless eating: The 200 daily food decisions we overlook. Environment and Behavior, 39:1, 106-123.

About the Authors

8 Keys to Faster Decision-Making for Leaders | GP Strategies (1)

(Video) How to make hard choices | Ruth Chang

Leah Clark

Director, Strategy and Planning, GP Strategies Corporation. Senior Director for Strategy and Planning, Leah focuses on bringing new products to market and enhancing the participant experience. She works with clients to understand their leadership and engagement challenges and consults with them on the creative solutions. Prior to joining GP Strategies, Leah had her own practice in executive coaching and consulting. She is a certified professional coach through an ICF accredited organization and is a Myers-Briggs practitioner. Leah has over seventeen years of experience in marketing, strategy, and product development in a corporate environment. She has also served as an adjunct faculty member in the fields of psychology and organizational psychology. She has a Master’s of Arts degree in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts in English and Sociology from Boston College where she graduated summa cum laude.

(Video) How leaders influence people to believe | Michael Dowling | Big Think


What steps do leaders take in making key decisions? ›

6 steps in decision-making for a leader
  • Give your decisions deadlines. Giving your decision a deadline can help minimize how long you have to change your mind. ...
  • Understand your options. ...
  • Adhere to company values. ...
  • Identify key factors. ...
  • Evaluate risk. ...
  • Consult others.
Jun 24, 2022

How do you make strategic decisions fast? ›

Consider trying one or more of the following strategies to help you make your decision based primarily on facts and goals:
  1. Collaborate with others. ...
  2. Write down your options. ...
  3. Set a timer or make a deadline. ...
  4. Consult with an expert.
Jun 24, 2022

How do managers make decisions 8 steps? ›

  • Step 1: Identification of the purpose of the decision.
  • Step 2: Information gathering.
  • Step 3: Principles for judging the alternatives.
  • Step 4: Brainstorm and analyse the different choices.
  • Step 5: Evaluation of alternatives.
  • Step 6: Select the best alternative.
  • Step 7: Execute the decision.

What 3 strategies will help you make good decisions? ›

Key Points
  • Investigate the situation in detail.
  • Create a constructive environment.
  • Generate good alternatives.
  • Explore your options.
  • Select the best solution.
  • Evaluate your plan.
  • Communicate your decision, and take action.

What is the best strategic decision-making process? ›

Analytical decision-making

This strategy is an excellent choice if you have access to all the information you need to assess a situation accurately. Analytical decision-making usually follows a well-ordered sequence of steps that can help individuals break large or complex decisions into smaller, more manageable tasks.

How do you train yourself to make decisions faster? ›

7 Ways to Train Your Brain to Make Better Decisions Try these techniques to make better decisions for your life and business.
  1. Why we struggle to choose. ...
  2. Go for good enough. ...
  3. Aim for speed. ...
  4. Imagine the worst-case scenario. ...
  5. Weigh your options. ...
  6. Put it on paper. ...
  7. Think small. ...
  8. Consult with people you trust.
Mar 31, 2020

How does one become a faster and better decision maker? ›

The more alternatives you consider, the more likely you are to make successful decisions. Carefully considering a wide range of potential choices is best. Communicating with others during your decision-making process can offer fresh perspectives that may present alternatives you hadn't considered.

What are the most effective ways to make decisions? ›

Tips for making decisions
  • Don't let stress get the better of you. ...
  • Give yourself some time (if possible). ...
  • Weigh the pros and cons. ...
  • Think about your goals and values. ...
  • Consider all the possibilities. ...
  • Talk it out. ...
  • Keep a diary. ...
  • Plan how you'll tell others.

How can I make better decisions faster at work? ›

Making better, faster decisions will help you take advantage of business opportunities and avoid pitfalls.
  1. Reframe the problem. ...
  2. Make evidence-based decisions. ...
  3. Challenge the status quo. ...
  4. Get an outside perspective...but trust yourself. ...
  5. Develop an eye for risk. ...
  6. Let go of past mistakes. ...
  7. Be honest with yourself.

What are the 8 elements of the decision-making process? ›

8 steps for an effective decision-making process
  • Identify the issue. ...
  • Research thoroughly. ...
  • Make a list of viable solutions. ...
  • Include other team members in discussions. ...
  • Evaluate your ideas based on their impact. ...
  • Choose the best option. ...
  • Evaluate the results of your decision. ...
  • Modify your process for your next project.
Oct 11, 2022

What are the 4 C's of decision-making? ›

While the decision-making process within an organisation can be complex, the key factor is the information that drives the decisions. For this to be of high quality and relevance, it's best to approach information gathering with the four C's in mind: Be curious, communicate, collaborate, and clarify.

What are the 4 R's of decision-making? ›

Aligning the Four Rs of Decision-Making: Results, Resources, Restrictions, Risk.

What is strategic decision-making? ›

Strategic decision-making is the process of comprehending the interaction of decisions and their impact on an organization to gain an advantage. Its true power lies in combining the right decision with the right time.

What are the six 6 suggested ways to make decision? ›

The DECIDE model is the acronym of 6 particular activities needed in the decision-making process: (1) D = define the problem, (2) E = establish the criteria, (3) C = consider all the alternatives, (4) I = identify the best alternative, (5) D = develop and implement a plan of action, and (6) E = evaluate and monitor the ...

What are the 6 principles of decision-making? ›

The six universal principles of persuasion are reciprocity, commitment, pack mentality, authority, liking and scarcity.

What are the 10 steps of decision-making? ›

10 Steps to Making Better Decisions
  • Assess the Situation. Take the time to identify the situation clearly and then organize the issues that need to be addressed. ...
  • Take a Fresh Perspective. ...
  • Consider Your Options. ...
  • Analyze Each Option. ...
  • Get Unstuck. ...
  • Make the Decision. ...
  • Define an Action Plan. ...
  • Communicate Your Decision.

What are the 3 C's of decision-making? ›

Clarify= Clearly identify the decision to be made or the problem to be solved. Consider=Think about the possible choices and what would happen for each choice. Think about the positive and negative consequences for each choice. Choose=Choose the best choice!

What are key strategic decisions? ›

Strategic decisions are those decisions that have an influence over years, decades, and even beyond the lifetime of the project. Once a strategic decision is made, it is very unlikely to be altered in the short term.

What are the 5 strategic choices? ›

In our terms, a strategy is a coordinated and integrated set of five choices: a winning aspiration, where to play, how to win, core capabilities, and management systems. … The five choices make up the strategic choice cascade, the foundation of our strategy work and the core of this book.

How can I improve my decision-making skills? ›

How to improve your decision-making skills
  1. Make a plan. If you know you have an upcoming decision to make, it can help to make a plan. ...
  2. Be assertive. Try taking command of the decision-making process. ...
  3. Ask an expert. ...
  4. Keep it in perspective. ...
  5. Set deadlines. ...
  6. Limit choices. ...
  7. Weigh your options. ...
  8. Exercise.
Feb 3, 2023

What are the four strategic choices? ›

Viewing strategy choices through four lenses—financial performance, markets, competitive advantage, and operating model—can help companies debias their strategic dialogues and make big, bold changes.

How can a leader be more decisive? ›

CEO Series: 7 Ways to Become a More Decisive Leader
  1. Don't Give In to Fear. It can be quite intimidating to make decisions, especially when they impact a lot of people or the direction of a company. ...
  2. Avoid Overanalyzing. ...
  3. Set a Deadline. ...
  4. Clear Your Head. ...
  5. Limit Your Options. ...
  6. Seek Help from Others. ...
  7. Ditch Perfection.

What is the ability to make decisions quickly and confidently? ›

What is confident decision-making? Confident decision-making is the ability to make decisions in a way that reduces stress and anxiety while remaining accountable for your actions and staying true to yourself.

How do you make decisions under pressure fast? ›

  1. Determine The Desired Outcome. Understand the situation and agree on the desired outcome. ...
  2. Prioritize Key Factors. ...
  3. Make Decisions Intuitively. ...
  4. Prepare For Potential Consequences. ...
  5. Weigh Decisions Against Probability And Desirability. ...
  6. Understand The Problem. ...
  7. Utilize Decision Matrices. ...
  8. Weigh The Need For More Data With The Timing.
Jun 16, 2021

What makes a manager a good decision-maker? ›

Effective decision-making as a manager requires to gather and analyze information, consider alternative solutions, and choose the best action based on their goals, constraints, and available information.

How do you solve difficulty in making decisions? ›

Decision-making and Problem-solving
  1. Develop evidence to support views.
  2. Analyze situations carefully.
  3. Discuss subjects in an organized way.
  4. Predict the consequences of actions.
  5. Weigh alternatives.
  6. Generate and organize ideas.
  7. Form and apply concepts.
  8. Design systematic plans of action.

How do you make decisions faster without regret? ›

Here are some pointers for making decisions without regret: First, think things through before acting; second, try to remain positive and optimistic about your decision; and third, be prepared to accept the consequences of your decision, good or bad.

What is the key to decision-making? ›

Summary: Usually, when we make any decision, the result probability is either positive or negative. So, for effective decision making, a person must weigh the positives and negatives of each option, and consider all the alternatives.

What is 4 stage decision-making process? ›

Figure 2 describes decision making as a four-stage process: intelligence, design, choice and implementation.

What are the 3 major leadership decision-making styles? ›

And each successful leader develops a style based on their own personality, goals, and business culture based on one of these three leadership styles: autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire. Take a moment and consider your own leadership approach.

What are the 5 leadership process? ›

What Are the 5 Levels of Leadership? John Maxwell's 5 Levels of Leadership are Position, Permission, Production, People Development, and Pinnacle. Each level corresponds with a particular action that results in followers.

What are the 6 suggested ways to make decision? ›

The DECIDE model is the acronym of 6 particular activities needed in the decision-making process: (1) D = define the problem, (2) E = establish the criteria, (3) C = consider all the alternatives, (4) I = identify the best alternative, (5) D = develop and implement a plan of action, and (6) E = evaluate and monitor the ...

What are the 3 C's of leadership model? ›

My training and experiences in the Army provided valuable insights into the principles and guidance into the makings of a true leader, none more impressive than the three Cs: competence, commitment and character. It may seem self-evident, but leaders must be competent — that's a non-negotiable.

What are the 4 basic leadership styles? ›

Today, there are a variety of leadership styles in business, but the four primary leadership styles you'll be exposed to include:
  • Autocratic.
  • Democratic.
  • Laissez-faire.
  • Transformational.
Mar 14, 2022

What are traits of a good leader? ›

Good leaders possess self-awareness, garner credibility, focus on relationship-building, have a bias for action, exhibit humility, empower others, stay authentic, present themselves as constant and consistent, become role models and are fully present.

What are the 5 C's of leadership presence? ›

Clarity, Capacity, Commitment, Curiosity and Connection make up the 5 C's and guide each of us to elevate our leadership presence.

What are the 7 seven leadership techniques? ›

The seven primary leadership styles are:
  • Autocratic Leadership.
  • Pacesetting Leadership.
  • Transformational Leadership.
  • Coaching Leadership.
  • Democratic Leadership.
  • Affiliative Leadership.
  • Delegative Leadership.
Jun 14, 2023

What are the six elements of a leadership mindset? ›

The Six Attributes of a Leadership Mindset: Flexibility of Mind, Mindfulness, Resilience, Genuine Curiosity, Creating Leaders, Enterprise Thinking.

What is the Big 5 model of leadership? ›

These factors, commonly called the Big Five, are neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness.

What makes a strategic leader? ›

Key traits of an effective strategic leader include loyalty to the organization's vision, judicious use of power, transparency, effective communication, problem-solving, readiness to delegate, passion for their job, compassion, and empathy for others and self-awareness.

What is leadership style 5? ›

The five leadership styles most commonly utilized are authoritarian (autocratic), participative (democratic), delegative (laissez-faire), transactional (managerial), and transformational leadership (visionary). Each style takes a different approach to leading others and has its own strengths and weaknesses.


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