We all face challenging decisions on the job from time to time. A recent article from Harvard Business Review* suggests answering five questions that can help clarify a decision:
1. What are the net, net consequences of all my options?
2. What are my core obligations?
3. What will work in the world as it is?
4. Who are we?
5. What can I live with?
Net-Net Consequences: Consider every possible course of action along with the full real world human consequences of each. Involve others in your thought process. Ask “who will be helped or hurt in the short-term and long-term.”
Core Obligations: We all have duties we have to safeguard and respect the lives, rights, and dignity of our fellow men and women. Think broadly about ALL stakeholders to identify these duties and which ones you will prioritize.
The World As It Is: You need to be pragmatic. Don’t make the decision thinking about the world as you would like it to be, but as it is. Is this a plan that will actually work if implemented according to the talents of the team involved?
Who Are We?: Think about the relationships, norms, and values that really matter to your organization. If they conflict, which are most important in this situation?
Living With Your Decision: Your decision needs to reflect what you really care about as a leader. It is part of why you were chosen for your role. Imagine explaining the decision to a close friend who knows you well. Make sure to take quiet time to reflect on the decision – don’t rush it if at all possible. Write out the reasoning of your decision.
Leadership is a challenging endeavor and making decisions in gray areas requires thoughtful leadership. Use these questions as a template to think through your decisions as you work to make the most effective Mission Impact possible.
*Managing Yourself: How to Tackle Your Toughest Decisions, Badaracco, J., Harvard Business Review, September 2016, pp. 104 – 107.