The answer is easy: No one’s perfect. Everyone makes mistakes.
Great leaders try new things and push boundaries. Sure they make mistakes, but that’s how they learn what works and, more importantly, what doesn’t. They don’t dwell on a failure. Instead, they see it as a stepping stone to bigger and better things.
Leaders that stay with the status quo and don’t experiment, quickly become stagnant!
So why do some managers make more than their fair share of bad decisions?
There are a lot of reasons why this happens. Here are a few and how to avoid them.
1) Relying Too Heavily on Past Experience
Experienced leaders add a lot to a company, but only if they can adapt their experience and apply it to new situations.
Just because an approach worked in the past doesn’t mean it’ll work again. That would mean all things involved remained the same. Honestly, how often does that happen?
Leaders who make bad decisions use the same data and/or way of doing things that worked in the past are destined to go wrong.
The reason: They’re based on old assumptions that no longer exist. They don’t look for better ways or answers.
2) Letting Loyalty Blind You
It’s great to work with people you like. But as a leader, you need to make unbiased decisions when it comes to staff, vendors, etc.
Blind loyalty causes leaders to overlook problems, even when other people see them vividly.
This can affect decisions in a negative way, because you may keep someone who isn’t working out and let someone go who is.
And it can cause resentment among others, making you a less effective leader.
3) Thinking Too Highly of Yourself
When leaders make decisions based on their personal preferences instead of what’s best for the situation, the results usually aren’t good.
Again, all the factors affecting the situation need to be taken into consideration for that specific time and place.
When leaders have a very high opinion of themselves, they don’t account for everything because they feel they don’t need to since everything they do is amazing!
And when their decisions go bad, they blame it on other people because it couldn’t possibly be their fault.
Their arrogance also causes them not to listen to the people around them, especially if those people have conflicting opinions.
4) Being Too Lazy to Do the Necessary Work
Bad decision making also comes from laziness.
If leaders aren’t willing to do the work, check data, gather additional information, etc., there’s very little chance the outcome will be a successful one.
If all the pieces of the puzzle aren’t gathered, you don’t have a complete picture and can’t make an educated/smart decision.
5) Being Indecisive and Overthinking Things
While some leaders think they know it all and don’t need help, there are those who listen a little too much, study the data a little too long and overanalyze everything.
This indecisiveness can also lead to bad decisions.
Wait too long to make a decision and the opportunity is gone. Overthinking causes confusion, which clouds judgment.
It takes a strong leader to see a situation, analyze it and act.
6) Losing Sight of the Mission, Lacking Purpose
Leaders who lose touch with their core values also make bad decisions.
Clarity of purpose allows leaders to see the mission at hand and act accordingly. They see the company’s mission and can align it with their own.
But when leaders lose sight of their core values, they make decisions without the resources they need to do so soundly and fail to align issues with the company’s overall strategy.
How to Avoid Making Bad Decisions
So how do you go about making as few bad decisions as possible?
Leaders who are effective and make far fewer bad decisions, first and foremost, are open-minded.
They don’t have a “my way or the highway” attitude. They listen to others, weigh their options and decide from there what to do.
Secondly, if they do make a mistake, they own up to it.
They don’t blame someone else. They take responsibility for their decisions and figure out what went wrong so they don’t make the same mistake in the future.
Next, they surround themselves with good people, not “yes men.”
Good leaders know they need people who will challenge their opinions and aren’t afraid to disagree with them. When people are bobble heads and just nod in agreement, only the leader’s opinion is ever really heard.
Good decision makers need smart, strong people around them to present alternative ideas that may work better.
And finally, successful leaders always have a backup plan.
Looking at the “what ifs” isn’t a bad thing, as long as you don’t get stuck in them. They allow you to switch directions in midstream if things start heading south.
All leaders make bad decisions at some point in time in their careers. The key is how they handle those decisions and turn them into positive ones.
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