On leadership: Take pressure off decision making

In many situations, you may need to decide without all the facts.

Pam Solberg-Tapper web.jpg
Pam Solberg-Tapper

Leaders make countless decisions every day. Being unable to make timely decisions can cause stress, pressure and delayed solutions. As indecisiveness mounts, it creates spinning in your mind which makes it even more difficult to decide.

Here is a framework for providing a strategic way to make decisions and combat the pressure of indecisiveness.

1. Write it down. All important and difficult decisions must be made on paper. Do not just mull it over in your head.

2. What is your desired outcome? Clarify the results that you want to achieve. A clear outcome is the driver of your actions. If the desired outcome is unclear the decision-making process gets “fuzzy.”

3. What is important about this decision? Identify why you want this outcome. Why is it important to you, your team and your organization?


4. Do you have the necessary information to make the decision? In many situations, you may need to decide without all the facts. If this is the case, always ask yourself: “What more do I need to know to make an effective decision?” Then try to get that information.

5. What are your options? Write down your various options. The more options you have, the better as it gives you more alternatives for resolution.

6. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each option? List the advantages and disadvantages in two separate columns. Then rate them as follows for each advantage and disadvantage:

  • What is their level of importance on a scale of 1-10?

  • What is the probability that it will occur on a scale of 1-10?

7. Review the disadvantages. In what way(s) could you mitigate the disadvantages, so there is less risk involved?

8. Select the best option. But be sure to ask yourself this important question: “Can I live with the downside of my chosen option should it occur?”

9. Do a “gut check.” Even when you have a clear “winner,” you may still feel uncomfortable. Reflect on the message your gut is telling you. Trust your intuition as it is a strong indicator of whether the decision is right for you and fits with your values and goals.

10. Take action. Once you have made your decision, design a plan and execute.

In today’s fast-paced environment, many decisions need to be made before you have absolute certainty. Use these steps to get the clarity to decide and move forward.


Pam Solberg-Tapper, president of Coach for Success Inc., is a Duluth-based executive coach, professional speaker and adventure marathoner. For questions or to submit questions or ideas for future columns, contact her at or 218-729-0772.

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