Making difficult decisions in business comes with the territory. There are tough choices about finances, products, services, investments, growth, hiring, and so on. As a business leader, you can expect decisions to be made daily. Some of them routine. Others will keep you up at night. Is there a right course of action? What if you make the wrong judgment call? How will your choice affect the success or failure of your business? Is there a formula that ensures the right outcome? Throw in a crisis and the waters really get muddy, even shake your foundation of confidence. So, what can you do to remain effective as a leader?
There are many references out there on how to make decisions in business. But as one CEO to another, it’s not always that simple. No one-size-fits-all silver bullet can help every leader or business. Each business is unique by the sheer fact that each company is led by a unique individual who has a vision, a mission, and a will to succeed. And although decisions and their outcomes are not always predictable, how one leads in spite of them may be the real measure of success. Although not cut and dry, here is some helpful advice:
If there was any time in recent history that has provided a reason for most businesses to panic, Covid-19 is it. The uncertainty of everyday life is at question. Business models are also being scrutinized by health officials, regulators, and the public. And this will undoubtedly continue as the pandemic moves around the globe. Government officials are dictating when to open, when to close, and when to reopen again. Changes in how our employees work and how our customers will be served is becoming part of the so-called “new normal.”
The events of today are a reality. You cannot control the coronavirus or how it will affect your business. What you can do is control how your business reacts to it. How will you and your company adapt? What changes need to be made?
Times of crisis can pose extreme challenges that are not for the skittish type. Maintaining a clear thought process and staying focused on the prize (your business’ livelihood) is crucial. You need to stay calm. Your level headedness and calm will help you make good choices and assures your employees that you “got this.”
During a time of crisis, it’s important to keep all of your options open. Staying positive will leave the door open to ideas that can help you overcome the obstacles that you face. Being positive also provides an infectious energy that provides the momentum for you and your staff to move forward.
The opposite of staying receptive to new things is a restrictive state of mind that controls what is allowed (and not allowed) as you think through the issues. A closed mind can cripple your sense of innovation and creativity. It can shut out the potential solution that will make the biggest difference.
Now, more than ever, your keen sense of direction needs to run on overdrive. But in doing so, be sure to explore the different ways to get where you want to go. After all, it’s what got you to your successes in the first place.
Gain a good vantage point
The last thing you want to do is lead in a blind spot. One abrupt move in the wrong direction can be disastrous (like making a lane change at 65 miles per hour without a clear view). The situation worsens in unfamiliar territories. Taking an aerial prospective is a better approach and can help you to see what is not so obvious.
Explore all possibilities. Get feedback from employees or others in your industry—those you trust. The best potential idea may surface at an exploration meeting with your team. Use your leadership skills and self-confidence to solicit viable suggestions from your talented staff members. You may be surprised how much they have thought about the current state of affairs and ways to make your business shine in spite of it all.
Of course, the “meeting of the minds” is not a new concept as history shows us. The more dynamic the group the better. Considering different viewpoints will help eliminate gaps in reasoning and yield the best results.
Consider the moral ramifications
Making decisions that are in the best interest of everyone may not always (if ever) be possible. Trying to achieve the true “win-win” also adds to the difficulty of seeking the best possible results. But when it comes to ethics and doing the right thing, making the right decision matters to a lot of people. And if most of them are your employees and customers, it’s important to work towards a fair and reasonable path.
Your own conscience aside, what you do can ultimately make or break your business. Especially if you ignore the moral ground and opt to go against ethical standards that are expected by your employees and customers. And although there may be a few who might argue that doing the right thing isn’t always the best plan of action, you owe it to yourself and your company to weigh the different outcomes.
It’s a matter of integrity. Gaining the trust of those you do business with is one of the best ways to guarantee their continued support. Ensuring repeat business will always be the right thing to do.
Be prepared for the wrong decision
Nobody’s perfect. So, don’t forget that your human. We can’t be expected to have all the answers. But it’s important to understand the risks involved. Realize that there are going to be times when the choice you make turns out differently than expected. Having a leadership strategy in place, will help you when the answers aren’t clear.
But whether your decision can actually be considered the “wrong” one, however, may not truly be known for a while. Something you decide now may lose revenue in the short term but create a new revenue stream that turns out to be more successful in the long run.
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