At one point or another, you will need to make difficult decisions as a leader — and there is no easy way to do this. Difficultdecisions involve risks, money, and people, and the stakes are high. When making a difficult decision, it is likely that you will not be able to make everyone happy.
However, there are some steps you can follow to reduce the fallout from making difficult decisions:
Have a Process
When the stakes are high, you need to have a process in place that shouldconsist of a set of criteria essential to making a toughdecision. This process will allow you to explain the justification behind your decision.
This doesn’t mean that everyone in your company will be satisfied with it. But it will definitely allow you to give the reasoning behind the difficult decision you made. This is very important when you are dealing with the people in your team or a substantialamount of money.
Many leaders believe that since they are the boss, they are not accountable to their teamand do not need to explain themselves to them. However, when you inform the people who work for you about how and why you made a particulardecision, it can help them understand and even agree with your reasoning and avoid jumping to wrong conclusions.
This shows that you are a reasonable person who put a lot of thought into making the decision, thereby confirming your integrity as a leader.
Consider the Potential Impact
Every difficult decision carries a lot of impact with it. With logical reasoning, you can consider the positive effects of the decision. However, there are a host of other factors that you will need to keep in mind as well.
What happens if your new project means that some of the people in your team are redundant and need to be laid off? What if your design costs billions of dollars to build? Hence, it is important that leaders keep in mind the emotional impact of the people who have a stake in the decision and the political impact that deals with stakeholder influence and company politics.
Find a Sounding Board
A trusted mentor, coach, or colleague can be very useful when you need help in making a difficult decision. You may be acting biased, miss a crucial element, or make a bad judgment call. If your stakeholders believe that the decision was made haphazardly, it can lead to problems down the line.
With a trusted sounding board, you can have someone who can review your decision for you and see if your process is sound. They can also help you determine whether you have an unconscious bias in your decision.
Own the Decision
The best leaders stay behind their decisions and let others know they were the ones to make the call. It is important that you acknowledge the impact on the people around you and show compassion, but it should not mean you have to back down from that decision.
Taking ownership of your own decisions means you stick with it and take the heat if some people don’t like it or if your actions don’t pan out as you want them to. Of course, you still are entitled to amend your decision if the situation changes and corrections need to be made.
When making a difficult decision, it is important that you do not give the impression that the decision is tentative and not final. This can make you seem like a weak leader who is unafraid of taking risks for the overall good of the company.
It is also important to understand that not everyone will be happy with your decision. However, if you follow a process, provide justification, and considered the impact of the decision on your organization’s assets, you have done your work.
Sometimes, it is better to take a risky move than not move at all. In other words, you must be willing to step forward and make changes, instead of being stagnant.