“It is the moment of decision that your destiny is shaped.”
-Anthony Robbins

Of all the traits real leaders share, decisiveness is one of the most obvious. If leaders know how to do one thing, it’s making decisions. Most people avoid decision-making as much as humanly possible…less decisions means less blame for mistakes, right? Wrong! The inability to make decisions is one of the major reasons most people never reach their goals. They refuse to make the decision to act, instead settling for “analysis paralysis”, a.k.a. – the inability to act.

Research has shown the major reason for a person’s refusal to make decisions is based upon the basic emotion, fear. A lot of people are simply too scared to make a decision because they are afraid of making the wrong decision. Instead, they look for others to follow – people who become leaders because they have the ability to make decisions and then the ability to live with those decisions. Obviously, no one can make the right decision every time, but leaders realize that decision-making keeps the ball rolling and you can’t succeed without movement.

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The only man who never makes mistakes is the man who never does anything,“ a quote I use often to emphasize the importance of being capable of making decisions. If you can’t decide, you can’t succeed! Leaders decide, so leaders succeed – it’s just that simple. So, how can we all learn to be better decision-makers and therefore better leaders? I have four helpful hints that will get you into the decision-making mood:

 

1. Set Timelines and Deadlines – like anything in life, if you don’t have a deadline, you won’t do something you don’t like to do. Just like homework in school, no one wanted to do the work, but because our teachers put a due date or deadline on every assignment they issued, we had to buckle down and get the job done. Same in work; if we don’t impose a deadline on our assignments, we won’t ever finish the task. Give yourself a deadline, i.e. “I will make four cold calls by 5pm, today, etc.” You’ll be surprised at how much more success you’ll experience when you put yourself under deadlines and timelines.

2. Practice Self-Mastery – learn how to teach yourself the skills you need to succeed. If you have to don’t know an answer, ask someone who does, or research the answer yourself. That’s what the Internet was made for.

3. Reward Yourself – we all like to be rewarded for a job well done, so be sure to reward yourself for completing a project or task. Whether it’s a simple reward like an ice cream cone, or something more substantial, like a new clothes, you need to give yourself an “Atta-boy” for completing your work on time.

4. Don’t Fear Failure – this comes back to my opening remarks about how most people don’t like making decisions because they fear failure. You started your own business, at least in part, so you could control your own future. To control your business, you’ve got to make decisions about your business. They won’t always be right, but that’s okay because in order to thrive, you’ve got to make the decision to thrive.

5. Find Your Voice – to become an effective leader and therefore an effective decision maker, you have to discover you own unique voice. Learn to trust your instincts and to formulate your own unique style. For the most part, people respect originality and by speaking with your own voice, you will solidify your reputation for leadership among your peers.

While some people are born leaders, decisiveness is something we can all learn to enhance, naturally. The bottom line is to practice being decisive, speaking with your own voice and then rewarding yourself for meeting your self-imposed timelines and deadlines.

Aaron Rennert, Vice President Worldwide Sales and Marketing, GM Sisel International

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 Go to Part 2.