Checkmate in Three – Tips on Making More Impactful Business Decisions This Year

My theme this month is “Don’t look for your shadow, see the sunshine.” Decisive and effective decision-making is a way for businesses to move forward into the sun. But ofter, as leaders, we struggle to make decisions. We question our instincts or feel bogged down by past failures. As a result, we find ourselves in the shadows. Suppose this resonates with you; make it a goal to improve your decision-making processes. Here are a few tips to get started, and, in a few weeks, we’ll share a more in-depth how-to with some additional pointers.

Don’t dwell on past failures.

There’s no better way to get stuck in the shadows than to be haunted by past mistakes and failures. We’ve all experienced it – you put your heart, head, and your trust into a project or idea, and it didn’t go as planned, or worse, completely bombed. So now, you’re a little shaken and gunshy. It can be challenging to let go of such an event and trust your instinct again. But to be an effective leader, you must. How can your subordinates trust and respect your decisions if you cannot?

You shouldn’t base business decisions solely on instinct. Evaluating data, capturing feedback, and applying your knowledge about your industry gives your instinct a solid footing. Use that footing to take the calculated risks that can propel your business forward. When your idea failed, why was that? Was your decision based purely on gut instinct? Probably not, so why lose faith in your instinct now?

All we can ever do is evaluate what we KNOW and what we THINK based on our evidence and come to our best conclusion. Sometimes market landscapes change in ways we can never predict, and all the data in the world doesn’t always show us a perfect yellow brick road leading to the promised land. Even the most successful leaders in the world have had big failures after taking calculated risks. True growth comes from those willing to try again and take that leap of faith when the evidence makes a good case for it. 

Embrace new ideas and take calculated risks

When it comes to effective decision-making, it’s important to embrace new ideas and be willing to take calculated risks. Maintaining the status quo might be the “safe” and “easy” option, but it will only serve to keep your business in the shadows while your competitors move towards the sun. Consider holding regular brainstorming sessions with your team, where everyone has an opportunity to pose ideas and input to grow your business. You might have to dodge a few stones, but a diamond could pop out from an unexpected place. 

We’ve talked a bit about calculated risks, with the keyword being “calculated.” Good decisions combine evidence, experience, and a little bit of faith. By evidence, we mean data collecting, employee feedback, consumer feedback, competitor analyses, market analyses, evolving industry trends, and more. Decisions should never be purely experience or faith-based; it’s important always to ensure the evidence aligns with what you think to be true.

When faced with a new idea that seems to align well with the evidence you’ve collected, try scenario planning as a tactic to evaluate the possible scenarios. Get a group together of trusted partners, mentors, or employees and consider all the possible outcomes that might arise from this new approach using a Political, Economic, Social, and Technological (or PEST) analysis. Detail what you think the warning signs of each might be and how you might approach them if they play out. Consider what the absolute worst scenario might be, how likely that scenario is, and how badly it would detriment your business. Also, consider the best-case scenario and the potential return on investment that your business might face. This exercise will help you weigh out the pros and cons, make a calculated decision, and prepare you for a variety of circumstances to reduce the chance of being caught off guard.

Make the call

The biggest tip for making effective decisions is honestly just to make the call. It seems obvious, but leaders will often go around and around in circles on a decision. Schedule meeting after meeting, discussion after discussion, never feeling 100 percent confident, and delay the final call. This practice is sure to keep you stuck in the shadows. Instead, schedule a deadline by which you’d like to have a decision made and try to stick to it. Only move if you feel you are still awaiting some essential data points. However, if you’ve collected everything you need and have evaluated every realistic angle, it’s time to lead the way.

We talked about there not being a yellow brick road, and that’s important to keep in mind. There’s often not a perfectly obvious answer. As leaders, we must embrace the gray and, after considering all the evidence, we can make an educated decision that you believe will put your business in the best position for growth (not stagnation).

Once you’ve made the call, continue to monitor and evaluate the impact of your decision. Revisit your PEST analysis often, and track which scenarios you believe are unfolding. Continue to gather feedback from mentors, colleagues, employees, and partners. Be prepared to pivot if needed and address any unforeseen changes or consequences that might arise. You may also need to stand your ground and defend your decision, which you can do by showcasing the evidence that led you there. The best decisions for your business are sometimes not popular or broadly accepted at first, but don’t let that shake you. You did your research and should have faith in where you ended up.

As mentioned, our next blog will detail more specifics on tools and techniques to gather the evidence you need to make effective decisions. If you struggle with making effective business decisions or are unsure what your next steps to achieve growth, consider exploring a complementary business diagnostics or leadership coaching session with a professional business coach for entrepreneurs. 

About Eagles’ Wings Business Coaching Eagles’ Wings Business Coaching offers personalized business coaching with a licensed coach for small business owners and entrepreneurs across the United States looking to improve and grow your company.