A Smart Decision Making Model For Leaders
October 11, 2021
Several years ago, I had the good fortune of transitioning from a middle management position into leadership position. As soon as I was promoted to the senior position, I was overwhelmed with having to make a lot of decisions. Unfortunately, no one had taught me how to figure out which decisions mattered and which were low impact and inconsequential.
Over a few weeks in the new role, stress built up. My team members were scared to make decisions because their previous boss was a micro-manager who wanted everything run past him. As a result, everything came to my desk and I was working longer and longer, trying to meet all the demands on my time. Soon the urgent started taking precedence over the important, and I was in a reaction mode all the time.
The situation soon became unsustainable, and I had to make some drastic changes; else, I risked burning out. I needed a framework that would help me make better judgment calls and also help me decide which decisions to delegate and which decisions to hold at my end.
Then, as luck would have it, I came across Farnam Street, an online knowledge site devoted to helping readers understand how the world works and how to make intelligent decisions.
Going through the various articles, I chanced upon a decision-making model similar to the “urgent and important” Eisenhower matrix. This article presented a decision matrix that balanced the dimensions of reversible and irreversible decisions, as well as consequential and inconsequential decisions.
The Decision Matrix
This matrix transformed the way I approached tasks and decisions overnight—all of the decisions I made fit into one of four categories.
- Irreversible and Inconsequential decisions.
- Irreversible and Consequential decisions.
- Reversible and Inconsequential decisions.
- Reversible and consequential decisions.
I began delegating to my team any tasks that were inconsequential in the larger scheme of affairs. All the predictable and straightforward decisions that my team was too afraid to take, I started pushing back on. I gave them the confidence with a simple commitment- your mistakes are mine, and your success is yours.
I would experiment with reversible and consequential decisions. Having gathered all the relevant information, I would have the best people within my team decide on my behalf. I was not delegating these decisions. They were my decisions to make, but my team members were compiling the options for me to choose from. That way, I achieved the twin objectives of training my key team members while making the right judgment calls.
The consequential and irreversible decisions were the ones where I spent most of my time focussing on. These were the tasks I could not risk delegating. These were the tasks and decisions that genuinely mattered for the long-term well-being of the business.
If you are in a leadership role bogged down with too many decisions to make and looking for more time in your day, I am sure this decision model can help you !!