5 tips for leaders to make better decisions faster, and smarter

By Robert Half 14 August 2019

Research suggests that the average adult will make a staggering 35,000 decisions, every single day.

Decision-making in business can be daunting, even when there is time to carefully weigh up all the pros and cons. Add to the mix the fact that an increasingly complex world is accelerating at unprecedented speeds, economic markets are fluctuating, and geopolitical conversations are having far-reaching effects on businesses. If that’s not enough, businesses are also coming under far greater scrutiny than ever before, due to greater online visibility.

To succeed in this challenging and complicated landscape, contemporary senior leaders must be capable of rapidly adapting to change and making better decisions faster than any previous generation.

Why do business leaders need to make better decisions faster?

According to the Harvard Business Review, 65% of managers say they are now required to make better decisions faster. But why is this the case?

Here are four reasons for leaders to consider:

1. Changing economic climate

Major political events such as Brexit and the US-China trade war highlight just how complex and volatile the economic climate can be. Whilst these are factors completely outside of a business’s control or influence, leaders will need to make internal decisions quickly to ensure their business responds effectively to market volatility or investment opportunities.

2. Technological advancement

Emerging technologies in artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and robotics are influencing more businesses to take action when it comes to workplace automation. Leaders must move fast to avoid giving competitors an advantage when it comes to digital change

3. Business intelligence

The influence of data and business intelligence means that leaders can make better and more informed decisions than in any previous generation. However, leaders must also adapt to the speed in which data can process and deliver information when it comes to strategic analysis and forecasting.

4. Digital transparency

Technology has led to far greater transparency between businesses and the public. Company revenues are readily available online, CEOs have biographies that are visible at the click of a button, and social media posts document every rise and fall. Whilst transparency can help build consumer trust, it does mean that brands are under far greater scrutiny than ever before. Leaders must remain not only resilient to scrutiny, but also be prepared to respond efficiently and effectively, as and when required.

How can leaders be better positioned to make faster decisions?

Whilst the speed in which leaders make decisions is important, the quality of those decision remains a vital component. Here are some methods that leaders can adopt to make faster decisions that will positively impact the workplace.

1. Be agile

Leadership decisions are sometimes dependent upon the response time of key company stakeholders to deliver their input. Creating an agile culture that removed formalities, encourages autonomy and prioritises problem-solving will allow leaders to make better decisions faster moving forward.

2. Allocate a deadline

To come to a decision in a timely manner, leaders should work more consistently with deadlines. Factoring that some tasks or projects take longer than others, planning and prioritising will allow leaders to ensure urgent decisions are made swiftly. As a leader, ensuring that your team have adequate support to achieve set deadlines is also important.

3. Embrace failure

Perfectionism can be paralysing. Leaders should avoid continuously seeking out perfection as it can lead to overthinking rather than action. Many decisions leaders make will be good, but not all of them. When a bad decision is made, leaders must be ready to recover and learn from the mistakes. By not fearing failure, leaders will become more comfortable making quicker decisions in the future.

4. Avoid information overload

Making a good decision requires information. Too much data though can often become counterproductive. It’s important to find a good balance. There needs to be enough information so trends can be spotted, and an informed decision can be made. Leaders must avoid having too much information that decisions are delayed or are stopped completely.

5. Delegation

The power to make decisions should not rely solely on one individual, but rather should be the responsibility of those who have direct oversight on the impact of those decisions. Delegating decision-making is also an effective method for leaders to concentrate their efforts and focus their attention towards urgent matters requiring their feedback.

While the urgency to make faster decisions is not always a matter of minutes and hours, leaders can still feel the pressure to rush towards a conclusion when urgent matters are at hand.

Making better decisions faster comes down to many factors depending on circumstance, however there are common factors that will be more apparent for future leaders, such as digital transparency and resilience.

Faster decision-making is possible through adaptability and effectively managing the urgency of issues that arise.

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