How to Make Big Decisions More Effectively

Named by Inc. as one of the top 100 leadership speakers, Shelley Row, P.E., is an engineer and former government and association executive. Shelley’s leadership work focuses on developing insightful leaders who can see beyond the data.
When it’s time to make a big decision, do you ask for advice? Many of us do, and our default behavior is to go to our most trusted friends or colleagues.  These are the people you already talk to often, and who know you well. There is a reason you are inclined to talk with them. It is easier and less energy-intensive for your brain and theirs because they are familiar.

But what if you chose to also seek the input from people you are less inclined to consider? People like that grumpy co-worker who has been through different experiences with the company then you have. Or the person who is always asking questions (being nosy?) but may have a lot of insightful information that could end up helping you.

While you need more energy to listen and engage with these people, you cannot make a well-informed decision by talking only to those with whom you feel most comfortable, or that are inclined to agree with you. That leads to insular thinking, and you may miss key inputs that could help you minimize pitfalls and sway your decision toward an even better outcome.

Widen your circle of influencers the next time you have a big decision to make and see how much it informs and enlightens you!
SHELLEY ROW
To make good decisions, you must engage with four types of people.

Your closest colleagues

This is the easiest group. You probably share a similar world view and leadership approach. Talk with them and push them to consider other perspectives by saying, “If this approach wasn’t available, what else should I consider?” This question forces a conversation that expands perspectives.

Your biggest critics

Who are the people who always disagree with you? Seek out their opinions (when you are in an open frame of mind and your energy is high.)

Those with fringe opinions

These people may think in unpopular or very innovative ways. While you may not adopt their perspective fully, you may discover a nugget of truth that should be considered, particularly for long-term decisions.

Those outside everyone’s circle

These are people not in your industry or who live somewhere else (possibly far away.) These factors alone would provide some objective perspective and a powerful learning opportunity.

Widen your circle of influencers the next time you have a big decision to make and see how much it informs and enlightens you!

 

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