Why are some executives considered great decision makers and others are only good or adequate? Great decision makers know when to delegate decisions, understand the risk of not delegating decisions, and when it is critical to make the call themselves. These great decision makers are also great listeners. They are careful to consider other viewpoints, especially strongly opposing ones, and are free to explore how the other side feels about the options.
CEOs are often perceived as having all the answers, when in fact, they simply cannot know everything that is happening in the company, the industry, and with their board of directors. They must learn to build a trustworthy team that fills in the gaps. Great decision makers simply delegate decisions to people who do have the information and answers when they can.
Another decision making misperception is that one bad decision will end a long career. This is simply not true if the CEO has established credibility. We all know everyone makes mistakes; if the decision causes your team to lose respect and diminishes your credibility then sure, you are in trouble. But if you have credibility and make a judgment error, you can and will recover, especially if you make another decision to quickly re-route the results of the last decision.
Credibility is the key to an executive’s ability to execute – it helps you gain access to the right people, the right information, investments, support, customers, etc. allowing you to ultimately make better decisions.
Credibility is built upon a track record of execution, integrity (yes – this is still alive and well in business), the people you surround yourself with, and managing your board communications.
The best decision-makers are recognizable from the people they surround themselves with, their track record of success in a certain area, their ability to gather assimilate information, and the knowledge of when to delegate decisions and when the buck stops here. They also operate with the utmost integrity and people will tell you how great they are to work with. At the bottom of it all is how they manage their working relationships to make the entire system work to their benefit. These are the CEOs you want on your team.