Things to Consider Before Making Tough Decisions

By Harvard Business Review
June 18, 2018

It’s best to take incremental steps without committing to a decision too quickly. Here are some ideas to reduce uncertainty as you evaluate options.

Every leader must make tough decisions that have consequences for his or her organization, reputation and career. It’s usually best to take incremental steps without committing to a decision too quickly. Here are some things to keep in mind before implementing a tough decision:

Assess the situation: Before acting, consider and add up the risks of not acting. Seeing the costs will push you out of avoidance. Consider also the pluses and minuses of all options available to you.

Add others’ perspectives: Don’t stew alone about the choices in front of you. Instead, talk to people you trust.

Try a test run: Find a low-risk, small-scale way to test your options.

Take a step: Break a complex decision into simple steps. Determine the very next step you need to take and then take it.

Make your intention clear: Be as clear as possible. Explain that you are in a bad situation in which any decision you make will harm someone.

Mitigate or compensate for the harm: Find ways to make the harmed people whole again. Give them opportunities to make up for what they have lost.

Recognize sacrifices: When your decisions result in harm for some, frame the harm as a sacrifice they’re making for the greater good. Do your best to turn them into heroes. 

Copyright 2018 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.

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