25 Nov 2017 20:22 IST

To be or not to be: decision-making in the corporate world

Don’t shy away from making up your mind; own your decisions

A while back, someone sought my perspective on a job change. After listening to his reasons for wanting to change jobs, which included things like the all the pain points of the current job versus the potential positives of the new one, I spent some time sharing my perspectives. I played the devil’s advocate and questioned assumptions he had made on aspects of his current job and summarised our discussion by objectively reiterating the positives and negatives of both options.

After listening to me, he had one simple question: should he change the job?

I then spent a few minutes explaining to him how that was a question I could not answer and that it was a decision he would have to make. At best, I could share an objective evaluation , which I had already done. We then spent the next few minutes tip-toeing around the same point and he tried asking me the same thing in different ways, for example:‘would I change the job if I were him?’ My reply was the same, that I would not decide on his behalf.

Growing trend

It suddenly struck me that I had been asked this question in many mentoring or counselling sessions. They would directly or indirectly try to have me take a decision on their behalf. So, I asked this person why he wanted me to take the decision for him, or at least voice a decisive perspective. His reply was that he found it easier to hear a decision and act upon it rather than taking a decision and then doubting it.

He is not alone in thinking like this; many people shy away from taking important decisions for this very reason. Such a mindset is very dangerous, as it reflects a fear of owning up to a decision and its consequences. This leads to very poor decision-making skills. Of course, if a person is really pushed to take a decision, they might do so under duress but flip-side is that the result of any decision taken under duress is always doubtful, as such decisions are invariably based in emotions and are not objective.

Tip for success

The ability to take decisions is a crucial skill for any manager, especially a successful one. As anyone with experience would know, not all decisions one takes are rights. People need to develop this skill by consciously taking decisions in a rational and objective manner. The only way to improve one’s decision-making capability is to analyse the results in the context of the decision and the variables that were taken into account. This should be done for both positive and negative outcomes in order to learn from them.

Keep in mind a simple fact of life: as a person climbs up the corporate ladder or grows in any entrepreneurial venture, the rewards are relative to the extent of decision-making required. A CEO is paid a large sum of money because the decisions have very high stakes. If you wish to reach that level, start honing your decision-making skills from today; don’t ask others to take important calls for you.

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