To be an effective leader, you must be able to make decisions confidently and strategically. This requires an understanding of your business as well as a belief in yourself. Here are some steps you can take to become a more confident decision-maker:
Gather additional information
When faced with a stressful decision, it’s easy to allow your emotions to take over. You might begin to worry about whether you have enough experience or information, whether you’ll upset other people, or whether you’ll make the wrong choice. Unfortunately, worrying clouds your judgment and makes it difficult to take action.
One way to manage this anxiety is to get the facts. Ask key questions to get the information you need to determine how to best approach the decision. Who will be impacted by this decision? What additional information is important for you to know? What is the timeline for making this decision? Asking questions will help you to feel more confident in your ability to move ahead.
Recognize when you need input from others
While you do not want to be dependent on others to make important decisions, in some cases, the right move is to strategically engage others in the decision-making process. If it’s a politically sensitive issue, for example, you will want to selectively consult with key influencers to get buy-in on your thinking before making any decisions.
Similarly, if the decision falls outside your area of expertise, it’s important to engage the right resources to help you with the process. Who are the subject matter experts you can turn to for support? Or, who are the key constituents that will be most impacted by your decision? If you’re genuinely not the best person to make a decision, defer to others as appropriate. More often than not, however, it’s your confidence, not your competence, that holds you back.
Embrace your expertise
Barring political sensitivities or legitimate concerns of expertise, when faced with an important decision, you are the best person to make the decision. Embrace your position and take ownership of the decision-making process. This is not to suggest that you shouldn’t socialize your ideas with others but don’t undermine your own influence by giving too much power to other voices. There is a difference between seeking input and deferring to others. If you defer to others too often, particularly in areas you own, you undermine your influence and authority.
Don’t overthink it
When faced with a strategic decision, efficiency is important. You will likely always feel that there is more that you can do to prepare but preparation takes time and resources, which may not be fully available. Trust your instincts. You’ve been put in your position for a reason. You undoubtedly know more than you think you do. Given the best information you have, make the decision that feels right to you. And know that most decisions are not irreversible. If you get it wrong, you can adjust accordingly. But not making a decision is a decision in itself – and that’s often much riskier than the active decision you plan to make.
How you make decisions has a great impact on your influence and overall brand. If you want to be a strong leader, focus on building the confidence and skills you need to make strategic decisions.
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