How to make difficult decisionsHow to make difficult decisions

How to make difficult decisions.

“Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.”
Peter Drucker.

For some time you’ve known that you needed to make a difficult decision, but you keep putting it off in the hope that everything will turn out okay. But the situation keeps getting worse. Not making the decision dulls your cutting edge, keeps you awake at night and makes you generally unhappy – not to mention the impact on your business. Others ask you about your sore point, but you beat them away with a tetchy hand. And time passes..​

​Sound familiar?​

Turmoil, clarity and focus

​I’ve always been amazed by those leaders who are able to make, what seems to me at least, difficult decisions without as much as a sigh.  It’s as if they have cast iron insides, rather than the mesh of angst and inner turmoil that resides within me.​​

If you, like me, struggle – how do you make the difficult decision to remove a business partner, lay off a key member of staff, shut down an office location, pull a product which many have invested so much into…​

​The answer lies in being crystal clear about where you want to go. And I mean halogen bright, laser focussed, marksman aimed, clarity. The clearer the clarity and focus, the easier the decision is. Thereafter, carrying out the decision requires all your courage, humanity and, for many, a shoulder to cry on (or a stiff drink) during/after you’ve carried out the seemingly dastardly act.​

The 6 Step Plan

​So here’s a six step plan to help with “how to make difficult decisions”, then to carry them out and survive!

  1. ​Define very clearly the desired end point. Imagine you are a logical machine. Remove emotion.
  2. ​List the benefits of getting there. If the pain outweighs the gain we won’t do it. Various change models are clear in defining the benefits in order to facilitate necessary change.
  3. ​Define the key steps needed to achieve the desired end point. Again, ignore your emotions however loud they shout. Strong leaders make difficult decisions.
  4. ​​Write down a detailed timeline for the key steps above. Be specific, e.g. By 30th October.
  5. ​​Get others involved. This may include your board of directors, a mentor, executive coach, partner or friend. Anyone who will support you through the emotional turmoil, as well as hold you accountable.
  6. ​Do it. Weak leaders prevaricate. Strong leaders make difficult decisions. Stay focussed, remind yourself of the benefits and drive it to conclusion. Reminding yourself of steps 1 and 2 every day. Get as much support from others as possible, give yourself time where possible to relax away from the situation.​

How to make difficult decisions summary

​Many leaders think they are alone in experiencing the emotional anguish. Rest assured – you are not.

Don’t make the same mistakes many before you have made – namely to ignore the personal impact. Instead make sure you keep your batteries charged by doing things you love, with people you love and take regular time out.

Which leads me to the thing to do after the difficult decision has been carried out..

Celebrate. Yes. I said celebrate. If the decision you have made has resulted in loss of jobs, crushing other’s dreams, or some personal impact, the truth is you’ve done something incredibly difficult. You made a courageous decision in line with your values. You carried it out despite your inner turmoil. So celebrate and give your body time to recuperate. If it was particularly stressful take a proper break after the event.​

Further reading;

I found some interesting quotes on decision making that I thought were quite thought provoking;

If you are struggling with making a difficult decision (examples for me included firing staff, and deciding to sell my previous business), then get in touch. We can help you work through the six step plan above, and provide emotional and strategic support to help you carry through.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. If you liked it you might also like how to sell more, successful entrepreneurs share these 3 traits or how to select a good executive coach.

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(C) Welcome Insight 2012 Author: Mark Bateman, August 2012, Image by Sasquatch I