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A 10 Step Process For Making Good Decisions

Phillip Van Hooser

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There are a number of factors that differentiate a true leader from a mere “wannabe. " One of the more important of those factors is learning to make good decisions. The abilities to think clearly and make good choices are skills too few people develop. That is unfortunate. For those of you interested in becoming capable of making those tough decisions, consider the following ten step guide.

1. Understand clearly what you are expected to decide.

2. Reconfirm the ultimate objective. Ask for the timeframe for making this decision.

3. Clarify your personal responsibilities.

4. Get as much background information as possible.

5. Research the history of the problem. Be aware of past precedents.

6. Understand the personalities and temperaments of the individuals involved.

7. Ask for help.

  • Call on your associates for their input, especially those with more professional experience in such matters.

  • Talk through your personal concerns with someone you respect, but who is not involved in the matter.

    8. Conduct a personal “attitude check. "

  • Honestly acknowledge any personal biases or prejudices that could affect your decision making integrity.

  • Let your emotions subside before deciding anything of consequence.

    9. Catalog all possible decisions.

  • List each potential decision that is available to you.

  • Consider the “worst case/best case" consequences of each decision.

    10. Communicate your decision carefully.

  • Anticipate as many questions and concerns as possible, then address them openly and forthrightly.
  • Be willing to listen honestly to well-founded criticism of your final decision.

    Once you have worked through these steps, you will possess information critical to making a sound decision. My colleague, Nido Qubein, president of High Point University and chairman of the Great Harvest Bread Company, offers these four additional questions to consider when making an important decision:

    1. What is the best thing that can happen if I make this decision?

    2. What is the worst thing that can happen?

    3. What is the most likely thing to happen?

    4. Am I willing to live with the worst to get to the best?

    Phillip Van Hooser is a leadership expert, keynote speaker and best selling author. His management training system, The Leadership Journey, has been used by companies all across the U. S. and beyond to help their people lower turnover rates, raise productivity, enjoy improved management/employee relations, manage change efficiently and communicate successfully with co-workers, superiors and customers. For more leadership strategies, sign up for Phil's newsletter and podcast at

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