Leaders are faced with all sorts of decisions daily; some are innocuous, others significant. Most decisions are made primarily on autopilot. You’ve done something a million times, a similar situation arises, and you act on it quickly without giving it much thought.
Other decisions, however, take a lot more effort especially because they are out of your day-to-day comfort zone. This could be a decision to hire or fire a key employee or to embark on capital expenditures that are higher than you’ve authorized in the past.
These are still within the realm of operational decisions that are part of your job, just faced less frequently.
Then we have decisions that you may not have faced. Many addressed these at the beginning of the pandemic. After all, two years ago we didn’t have the luxury of a pandemic playbook to consult.
Major crises like the pandemic or a dramatic industry change that significantly affects your business (both in positive and negative ways) are out of most people’s comfort zones.
There are many theories and as there are steps for decision making. The starting point, and in many cases, the most important, is to define the problem in as much clarity as possible.
Let’s take an example that is familiar from early pandemic days: business plummeted, and CEOs needed to make survival decisions. Here are three examples involving how three different CEOs managed people expenses in order to keep businesses afloat:
+ Liberally fire/furlough/downsize staff to cut expenses.
+ Hold on to staff as long as possible and dramatically cut overhead.
+ CEO went without pay to keep employees afloat.
These decisions are not right or wrong, but they were determined based on how these CEOs defined the catastrophic problem. A restaurant owner faced a different crisis that an engineering firm than an auto dealership.
You can use this example as a model when you are facing a massive decision. Hopefully yours won’t be as dramatic as these examples were but will help you view a current challenge with fresh eyes.
Header image by Zen Chung/Pexels.