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Written by The Mezzanine Group
on May 24, 2011

Check out the intro post for this series here.

Like most of the concepts presented in this series, the premise behind this principle of leadership is simple but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to duplicate.

Let’s start by breaking this concept into two parts. Make sound decisions, and make timely decisions.

To make sound decisions try to base your decisions on fact rather than assumption, emotion or hear-say, and approach your decision logically. If you hear the boss is planning a mass firing for anyone that doesn’t wear purple to the office you may want to consider validating the rumour before acting on it. Likewise, if you receive an email that tells you to forward the email to 100 people in 4.2 seconds to receive $500 dollars from some large corporation, take the time to validate the claim before acting on it and making yourself look foolish.

While all decisions are not this straight forward, the key here is to not take things for granted. Take the time to ask questions to figure out if all the facts line up or are logical before deciding how to proceed.

To make timely decisions is a bit trickier. Understand that timely does not always mean immediately. For example, if you are speaking at an event or hosting a webinar it is timely to have a presentation prepared and rehearsed before you present. It does not mean you must decide how the animation of your presentation should flow the moment you confirm the event date. Timely can therefore be defined as the most opportune or logical time to make a decision. And yes, there will be instances where timely does mean immediate.

Often making a decision too early or too late will negatively affect the outcome. Using our speaking event as an example again, choosing your topic before you know who is coming to the event may be a futile exercise as you’re likely to revise to cater to their needs anyway. Likewise, if your topic contains rare or hard-to-find facts, then finalizing your topic too late may limit your options based on capacity for research.

In other words, making timely decisions can sometimes be linked to making decisions in the right sequence. Making a decision before you have the necessary facts can you leave you guessing; making a decision too late will often limit your options.

Many people will struggle to make a decision when they are not ready to tackle the consequences of their decision and so they put it off. Some people simply procrastinate. If you struggle with making decisions consider mapping out the steps that would follow your various options. If you have a plan outlined to support each of your possible decisions, it will make it easier to decide. It is also important to ask for help when making decisions in areas you are weak in. Just like you would not choose how to invest your money without properly researching it yourself or consulting a professional for his or her advice, it makes no sense to make other decisions without any facts or advice.

There are many books out there that speak to the effectiveness of making decisions promptly, the most famous of which is Blink. There are many theorists that believe a bad decision quickly is better than a good decision that comes too late. I tend to agree, however, it is important to make good decisions quickly if at all possible.

Here’s hoping all your decision making is timely, logical and ends in successful results.