How To Make Tough Decisions For Leaders

How to make tough decisions for leaders

Have you ever had to make a tough decision? One of the key pillars for any business leader’s success is effective decision-making. Whether you run a small local business or a Fortune 500 company, you need to know how to make hard decisions. This article, ‘How To Make Tough Decisions For Leaders’ will show you how.

As a leader, it’s expected that you will have to make a few tough calls here and there.

But it doesn’t end there.

You also have to be ready to deal with the consequences that come with the difficult decisions that you make.

After all, the best leaders are those who take most of the blame when things go wrong, and the least of the credit when things go the right way.

Knowing Your Decision-making Style

Tough calls

If you want to know how to make tough decisions as a leader, the first thing that you need to do is know your decision-making style.

When you understand how you make decisions, even if they seem small or insignificant, it will be easier for you to make informed decisions in the future.

Knowing your decision-making style will also help you be more self-aware of your strengths and weaknesses.

This will prevent you from making biased decisions in the future.

Taking Sides With Popular Opinion

Difficult decisions

These are people who believe in the power of democracy.

They are wired to ask the opinions of everyone involved before they make a decision.

They have to get the buy-in from everyone and often holds a vote before they move forward.

However, while leaders should always take the common good into consideration, this style isn’t practical for tough on-the-spot decisions to be made.

Gathering And Analyzing Data

Hard decisions

These decision makers need hard data to come up with a decision.

They put great effort into researching, organizing, and interpreting data, especially numbers.

For these data-driven individuals, the more information they have, the better their decisions will be.

The only problem is that they tend to miss out on the ‘human element’ that sometimes can’t be seen in data alone.

Following Your Gut Feeling

Hard decisions to make

People who rely on their gut feeling can only move forward when their gut tells them it’s okay.

They rely on their feelings and emotions to make quick decisions.

These people are not afraid to take risks to make tough decisions as leaders, because they believe that the only way to move forward in life is to follow their instincts.

It’s not really seen as effective leadership decision-making because leaders are expected to always act in a rational way.

Writing Down A List

Difficult choices

For these leaders, making a tough decision means having to list the pros and cons before anything else.

Putting down lists helps them approach problem-solving methodically.

Listing the different factors surrounding their decisions, or the possible outcomes gives them the confidence to move toward the right direction.

Doing It For The Story

Making hard decisions

People who make decisions based on the narrative they want to share are often adventure seekers.

They’re not afraid to try out new methods, go after impossible goals, and risk it all, in the hopes that they will have a good story to tell the world afterward.

They tend to forego rational thinking in exchange for an interesting and exciting outcome.

Seeking The Guidance Of A Higher Power

Hard choices to make

For some people, seeking the guidance of a spiritual being is the only way to a solution.

For these type of leaders, praying to God or relying on their spiritual beliefs is the most effective way to know how to make tough decisions.

They go on prayer retreats or observe moments of solitude before they can decide on anything.

They will not move until they feel complete peace about their decision.

Avoiding Conflict By All Means

Why is decision making hard

This may be the leadership decision-making style that is unbecoming of a leader.

These people will do whatever it takes to avoid conflict and will move forward to the next step without having made a decision.

They will allow others to make crucial decisions on their behalf.

Understanding How Leaders Make Tough Decisions

Leadership decision making

Since taking on a leadership role can be emotionally and mentally taxing, leaders are always on the lookout for ways to make decisions.

Some leaders dive right into it just to get it out of the way, while some delay making a decision. The thing is, there’s no escaping those crucial moments when you’ll need to make a difficult call.

Luckily, there are a few effective decision making tips that will help you take the next step.

Whether you’re trying to find a better option or you’re doing damage control, these strategies should help you make effective decisions as a leader.

Step Out Of The Equation

Decision making styles

As a leader, one of the fastest ways that you can come up with a tough decision is to take yourself out of the picture.

Try to look at the situation from an outsider’s perspective.

Imagine that it’s your close friend who needs to make the tough call.

What kind of advice would you give if it was someone else in your situation?

By removing yourself from the equation, it will be much easier for you to answer difficult questions.


Because the stakes are lower and you have no personal biases in the situation.

You get to see the situation for what it really is.

Avoid Decision Fatigue

Leadership decision making process

Decision fatigue is what happens when you need to make too many decisions in a row.

It’s a documented phenomenon that renders many people indecisive.

You see, even small decisions like what to wear, what to eat, or where to go, can wear your decision-making skills out.

The stress of having to decide on these little things makes it more difficult for a person much more a leader to tackle the bigger or tougher decisions.

One way that you can avoid decision fatigue is to build habits around your routine.

Take inspiration from Steve Jobs and have one go-to outfit.

Or prepare and eat the same meals every day so that you don’t have to think of the little things.

Set A Deadline

Decision making approach

Many business leaders have a tough time making decisions because they fail to set and follow a deadline.

They put off decision-making because they think that since they’re in charge, it doesn’t matter if they procrastinate.

By setting a deadline, you’ll be forced to deal with the situation in a timely manner.

While you don’t want to rush making decisions that can lead to serious consequences for your business, the least that you can do is have a timetable and follow through.

Procrastinating is not only a waste of time, but it also takes a toll on your mental resources.

Simplify Everything

Decision making in management

Tackling touch decisions can be intimidating, especially those with a lot of factors involved.

The more options you have, the harder it is to choose.

And even if you choose one, you’re likely to doubt if you made the right one once you make your decision.

If you want to practice effective decision making, simplifying your circumstances can help you.

Try limiting your options to 2-3 so that you don’t waste your time going through a list of 10 options or more.

For example, if you’re choosing a new executive assistant from a pool of a hundred candidates, you can start narrowing it down based on work experience, skills, and age.

From there, you can narrow it further until you get the best candidate.

Think Long Term

Decision making leadership skills

While it’s tempting to dwell in the short term effects of your decisions, sometimes, the only way that you can move forward is to try to imagine what would happen years from now.

How is your decision today going to affect you and your company in 3 years or 5 years time?

If you end up making a bad decision, it can easily be recovered within the first 2 years.

So even if you’re bombarded with all the worst case scenarios now, you shouldn’t beat yourself up.

Decision-Making Tips: How Do You Know If You’ve Made The Right Decision?

Different decision making styles

With so many ways to make decisions, how can you tell that you’ve made the right one?

After all, the choices you make today can result in some serious consequences in the future.

If you had the chance to come face to face with an opportunity of a lifetime, how would you know that you’re making the right decision?

Well, to be honest, there’s no cookie-cutter approach to making tough calls. If you want to know how to make tough decisions especially as a leader, the best that you can do is head towards the right direction.

Here are 6 signs that you’ve made the right choice.

It Has A Positive Impact On Others

Strategic leadership and decision making

Does your decision make other people’s lives better?

Does it serve the greater good?

While leaders are expected to be pragmatic at all times, your decisions, tough or not, don’t matter if it won’t have a positive impact on others.

Decisions should be made with the intention of upholding the greater good.

If it creates more harm than good, then you’re not on the right path.

It Meets The Standards Set By Authorities

Even if you’re the primary decision maker in your company, no one makes decisions on their own.

For one, your decisions need to follow the standards that were set by an authority.

Simply put, they should be made legally.

It Follows A System

Approaches to leadership decision making

Decisions should always be made based on good criteria.

Since it takes time, resources, and clear judgment to come up with a choice, it’s important that your decision at least follows a system.

It Leads To More Opportunities

An effective and good decision should lead others to act.

It should be empowering to a point that it will lead to more opportunities for growth and development.

It Is Executable

Your decision doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t lead to action.

If you have no idea what to do after you’ve made your choice, it just means that your decision still isn’t clear enough.

It Should Be Made Out Of Self-awareness

How to make a tough decision

Summarily, this is how leaders make decisions; with a strong sense of self-awareness.

When you make a decision, you shouldn’t make it just so you would feel important.

It should be made out of humility while being aware of your own strengths and weaknesses.

5 Powerful Tips For Making Tough Decisions As A Leader

How to make a hard decision

Making difficult decisions takes practice.

Even if you want to put off decision-making in order to avoid conflict, there are times when you just have to step up and own the consequences.

Especially if you’re in a leadership position, delayed action can lead to lost opportunities.

The key to making decisions as a leader is to face the difficult choices head-on.

You’ll want to tackle them before they turn into larger obstacles that will require more time, effort, and resources.

Here are 5 powerful tips that will help you become a more decisive leader, no matter what your leadership style is.

Stop Avoiding Difficult Conversations

How to make difficult decisions

Having to engage in difficult conversations is one of the most challenging aspects of being a leader.

As a leader, you already have enough anxiety and stress as it is.

As the company grows and as more people come on board, the responsibilities become even bigger and communication becomes harder to facilitate.

Whether it’s talking with a board member or a staff member, there are some conversations you would rather put off.

However, when you delay a difficult conversation, it prevents you from taking the next step towards a resolution.

Worse still, it might lead to more conflict in your organization.

Putting off a conversation isn’t going to magically make it easier for you to arrive at a decision, plus, withholding information is never fair to the parties involved.

Make The Decision You Should’ve Made Yesterday

How to make a really difficult decision

Most business leaders tend to focus on what’s up ahead.

They’re always anticipating the next big opportunity to the point that they lose interest in what’s in front of them.

Think about a decision that you should have made a long time ago but didn’t because you were procrastinating.

Now think of how much time you wasted trying to resolve the situation without really putting any action into it.

Whether it’s letting go of a team member, turning down a business partnership, or renegotiating a contract with a client, just do it now.

If you’re dealing with a problem, know that it won’t solve itself.

Dealing with it now will not only put your mind at ease but also make things better for your company and your team.

Change Your Perspective

Making tough choices

Here’s one of the things that you need to remember about making tough decisions as a leader.

No matter how bad things get, they’re not as bad as they seem.

Many people have the tendency to think of the worst case scenario to the point that it stops them from making difficult decisions.

They feel stuck in situations that haven’t even happened yet.

Sometimes, it is all just a matter of perspective.

If you feel stuck with a tough decision, try to flip it in your head.

Instead of focusing on the things that could go wrong, think of what would happen if it all worked to your advantage.

Maintaining a positive outlook will not only open new opportunities for your company.

It will also make you a more effective leader.

Look To Your Tribe (Team) For Support

Making difficult decisions

Being at the top gets lonely at times.

Many leaders feel paralyzed to make decisions because they’re burdened by the immense pressure of having to own up to it alone.

Even though most business decisions are ultimately yours to make, that doesn’t mean that you can’t look to your tribe for support.

Your tribe is there to help you see the situation for what it really is.

Remember that you are never alone.

While most decisions are ultimately yours to make, you can rely on your team to give you a sense of direction and some much-needed feedback.

You were the one who put your tribe in place, so you might as well listen to them.

If there are people in your tribe who don’t support your decision, don’t disregard what they have to say.

Ask them for their feedback and advice.

The additional intel will serve you well in the future.

Decide To Be A Positive And Better Leader – No Matter What

Making tough decisions

You may not be aware of it, but as soon as you wake up in the morning, you have an important decision to make that will set the course of your business.

You can decide to make it a positive or a negative day.

By deciding to make the day a positive one, you’re also deciding to be a better leader for your team.

Leaders don’t have the time or energy to give into their negative emotions.

When you get angry or frantic over making the smallest decisions, it shows your weakness and instability.

And this reflects badly not just on your leadership, but also on your decision-making skills.

With the powerful tips above, how do you now feel taking on tough decisions?

We would love to know!

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how to make tough decision for leaders