Want To Be An Executive? 3 Ways To Improve Your Decision-Making

I see people in LinkedIn who call themselves decisive on their profile.

I hope they are and if so I’d like to do business with them. If you want to be an executive, you have got to start getting better at decision-making.

I know a lot of people who are not decisive.  When I go out to dinner with them, they spend way too much time trying to decide between the chimichangas or the nachos.

When I am super hungry, “too  much time” always seems like double what it really is.

And when it comes to wine, I have one friend who acts like the wine decision is a matter of life and death. It’s just wine for god sakes.

I could  finish a bottle of champagne by the time she figures out which wine to drink.

There’s a real plus in making quick decisions at restaurants–your friends will want to go out with you. In  business, timely decisions are even more valuable.  You will be seen as decisive, and you won’t tie up yourself and others with indecisions.

Here’s 3 ways to help you get better at it:

1.  Don’t ask your mother.  I’m serious.  Some adults–almost my age-tell me they have to ask their mothers.  Huh?

I meet executives who talk over their business situations with their mother, their father, their wives.  I understand that a partner is someone you can trust, but if you are asking your mother or father, when will you ever grow up?

I bought two houses without telling anyone, [I was single at the time]. If I had asked my mother, she would have said no, and I’d still be living in Boston.

In the gallery, there are people who can’t decide between painting A and B. They ask for photos and send them  to their mother to decide [I’m serious].

They tell me, “my mother used to work in a gallery.”

What does their mother usually say?

You don’t need a painting!! Or,” I can get it cheaper for you in Australia.”

When you ask your mother, besides driving others crazy.  It makes you look like a child.

2.  Give yourself a time limit for the decision.  Some decision processes go on forever–or seemingly forever.

I really appreciate when a consulting client tells me that they will decide by a certain date whether they will hire me or not.

Are you choosing wine? Give yourself 3-5 minutes.  Choosing a consultant?  A week seems reasonable.  Buying a new manufacturing plant might take a few months or a year.

Take longer if needed, but just let people know.  If it takes too long, you not only look indecisive, you look weak as a result.

3.  Don’t be afraid to say no or yes.  Maybe is not a decision. It’s more of a non-decision. Say no and explain why. Say yes and explain why.  And don’t be dishonest about the reasons–don’t blame your boss, don’t blame the budget, don’t say something like, “you wouldn’t have liked this project anyway.”  Take responsibility for your decision.


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  1. Eric Dahler says:

    Bob I sell wines and champagnes over the last 15 years, I meet lots of people who can’t say no or yes. I got replies to my suggestions like ” I will think about it” , “I need to ask my boss” or the must amazing and common reply is “My wife is pregnant I can’t drink”

    Cheers,

    Eric