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Six Steps to More Effective Decision-Making

Alison Young

Alison YoungBy Alison Young, Executive Director, Drexel University’s Institute for Strategic Leadership at LeBow College of Business

In our complex, fast-paced, data-deluged world, making effective decisions in a timely manner can be a real challenge. It’s an important leadership skill though, and decision science majors are on the rise at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business. “Data—in the form of numbers, text, audio, video and social media—helps us make better decisions,” says Murugan Anandarajan, professor of management and decision sciences at Lebow. “We use this data to model the problem, then based on this model, we collect the relevant information, apply it to the model and make the best decision for you. This is the focus of the decision sciences.”

Yet if you’ve ever made a difficult call and then had it questioned, you know that decision-making is also an art. There is a personal side to decision-making that’s influenced by factors like experience, courage, perspective, time pressures and circumstances. Whether you’re launching a new product or making a new hire, the decisions you make today may be different if you were given another week—or month.

Below are six strategies that embrace both the art and the science of decision-making to help leaders make effective choices and avoid unnecessary delays due to self-doubt and uncertainty.

  1. Do your research.  Sources of data are everywhere, and experts are more accessible than ever.  Within the time that you have, consult expert sources and collect facts to validate your assumptions.
  1. Trust your gut. Your experiences, education and environment have prepared you to be in a leadership position to make important decisions.  Trust your instincts and have confidence in your experience.
  1. Accept failure and learn from mistakes.  Sometimes you will make the wrong call, but having the confidence to search your failure for a lesson or new idea can turn your failure into a growth opportunity.
  1. Don’t compare yourself to others. Your path is unique and your influences are personal.  In a leadership position, you must have the courage to make decisions and stand by them.
  1. Focus on the present.  Perhaps next week or next month you’d make a different choice, but focusing on the present and the factors that are influencing your process in this moment when the decision needs to be made will help you make the best decision you can make today.
  1. Limit second-guessing, and move on.  Being decisive means making the call and moving forward.  Be confident in your choice, and look to the future.

On February 29, Drexel Lebow’s Institute for Strategic Leadership will be hosting an event with Marc Vetri that addresses this topic. Vetri will discuss his recent decision—publicly questioned in the media—to sell his restaurants to well-known retailer Urban Outifitters. Register here.