Good decisions drive organizations. It’s one of the CEO’s five main responsibilities, yet many take the wrong approach. Some attempt to make every little decision. Others procrastinate for fear of making a wrong decision. Still other CEOs act like a dictator without regard for opinions or evidence. All of these approaches risk slowing down the business, neglecting the role’s true responsibilities, undermining employees, and degrading the culture.
CEOs must learn to focus on making timely, informed decisions that only they can make. These include issues with cross-organizational significance, such as M&A activity, resource conflicts across departments, strategic partnerships, and key hirings. This may seem simple, but given the depth and breadth of decisions that cross a chief executive’s desk, it’s a skill to know which decisions to make and which to leave to employees.
This leads to the other important element of CEO decision-making: Coaching employees to make good decisions within their areas of responsibility. CEOs who can build an organization where quality decisions are made at every level are more likely to succeed. It’s always better to have the employees who are closest to the situation, with the greatest knowledge and expertise, make decisions.
The challenge for CEOs is ensuring that employees make these decisions in support of company strategy. It’s the CEOs job to clearly communicate the strategy to everyone, which is another key responsibility (Own the Vision). This is much easier than having employees send detailed knowledge up the chain. The goal is to have employees make the same decisions the CEO would make in their position. This leads to better, faster decisions that drive the corporate strategy and results.
While CEOs must cultivate this decision-making approach in their organizations, the following infographic from the Mint.com blog reminded me that coaching should go beyond just the process. It features seven tips for employees to overcome “decision fatigue” – especially when they’re overloaded with information and deadlines. These include being focused, well rested, and organized, using the right tools to simplify basic tasks and minimize distractions. Click on the image to read their full article.