How do leaders leverage themselves—especially in the area of making good decisions? Group input is highly valuable for the best decisions. However, over-confidence can cause the leader to go solo when he or she feels it suits them. This usually leads to the erosion of others confidence in the executive’s ability to lead.

2 myths distort the process.

Myth #1 — Decisions should be made at the highest level.

Decisions made at the highest level are not always the best decisions for the organization. When this happens problems are not solved. They are temporarily postponed. If this person is surrounded with like-minded thinkers then the illusion of a good decision might lull them into feeling good about what they are doing.

Myth #2 – Good decisions result from consensus.

One element that fosters good decision-making is to see an issue from multiple angles. Without this there’s no divergence from accepted norms, no diversity of thought, and no dissension.

This doesn’t automatically happen nor is it our natural tendency. It must be intentional with built in mechanisms that insure more than one perspective. This fosters creative solutions.

Abraham Lincoln was the surprise winner of a viciously contested primary filled with personal attacks and attempted coup d’états. Lincoln won and then did something that surprised everyone. He put the very men he battled with on his cabinet. He called them his Team of Rivals. They provided a variety of perspectives and tension filled solutions that avoided the yes-man groupthink that mark so many presidential cabinets.

Now you might not put rivals on your team, but Lincoln’s point is well taken. There needs to be the right amount of creative friction to produce the creative tension needed to refine new ideas and challenge old assumptions.

A good leader will know the boiling point so that the tension doesn’t get overbearing or melt the team.

Here’s the real danger: the discussion on teams can shut down quickly, followed by an undue pressure to act on that decision without buy in from those doing the work. The result is sluggish execution that hits another domino where leaders now feel a need to micromanage and mandate.

Organizations need to have their own decision-making process in place that uses the organizations best asset—their people. In doing so the executive is now truly leading everyone on the team.

As you lead your team, try on these six guidelines for better decision-making.

  1. Rethink Old Solutions. “It didn’t work before,” but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be tried again. Maybe with the current changes and some adaption it might work better.
  2. Go Slow In Order To Go Fast. Don’t be in a rush. That can eliminate asking the right questions. Put down the stop watch. There is a time for expediency, but quick decisions aren’t always the best. If you feel there is an urgency, ask what is influencing that? Why the rush? Are we able to allow more research and input?

“Be quick, but not in a hurry.” John Wooden

  1. Operate At The Intersection Of Order And Chaos. There is no need for ironclad control. Loosen the reigns on the discussion. Don’t focus on power. Focus on leadership that welcomes alternative solutions. Develop a culture that values multiple perspectives. Egos should be checked at the door, and dissenting views are not personal attacks.
  2. Listen. The best way to do this is by asking clarifying questions. Let them know you heard them and take them deeper in their thinking.
  3. Seek the right information, not more information. The best solutions come by spending more time defining the problem. Clarifying the problem, goal or objective crystalizes the information search.
  4. Make “good enough” decisions. We seldom make the 100% decision. Sometimes a good decision now is better than a perfect decision later. This is essential to remember in today’s fast-paced world.

When it comes to decision-making, effective leaders know when to release control. They delegate and build confidence in others. They see their team’s successes as a way of leveraging their own leadership competencies.