Making the Right Decision

Key Takeaways 

  • Wise decision making begins with clarification
  • It takes practice to lead from the heart

The decision between chocolate or strawberry ice cream is easy.

The decision gets trickier if your preferred flavor costs more. Potential allergens, caloric density per bite and the company’s brand reputation further complicate the purchase. Add sustainability concerns and ingredient sourcing, and the chill from the frozen food aisle begins to set in.

Not everyone has spent too much time in the frozen food aisle thinking about ice cream, but we have all had times when simple decisions become complex and we freeze.

Knowledge, time and values all play into the way we make decisions, but when we feel we are at an impasse, there are ways to move forward. Discernment, a pillar of leadership, is required in both complex decision-making processes and when we need to make quick decisions day-to-day.

When in a leadership position, decision-making stakes are higher. After all, the leader’s decision affects the team, and personal preferences often have to take a backseat. It is all the more important for leaders to self-regulate in such cases.

Self-regulation means take a step back and ensure the situation and choices involved are clear. Rather than resting on his/her laurels or making a snap judgement, leaders must move forward with clarity in order to realize self-effectiveness — and then continue with confidence.

When we have to change lanes on the highway before our exit, this decision making happens quickly. There is a simple formula: If we have the space and time, we get over, but if a semi is blocking our way, we stay in our lane. The more experience gained as drivers, the easier this call is to make quickly. The same may be true with decision making.

To make the right decision in the right time and for the right reasons means weighing options appropriately. It can be much more tempting to think in black and white terms, but often decisions are not that easy. Decision making can mean leading from the heart and values of a given team, but this takes both self-knowledge and environmental awareness.

If you enjoy the taste of chocolate more than strawberry, this is helpful information. If you support the social and sustainable practices of both ice cream companies, great. After shopping a few times, you may even know to check the expiration date. With time and practice, a leader develops intuitive discernment, but when decisions are complex, clarity must be the first order of business.

Sometimes we need to lead from our heads in order to learn to lead from our hearts.

And yes, chocolate is always the right answer.

Bandura, A., & Jourden, F. J. (1991). Self-regulatory mechanisms governing the impact of social comparison on complex decision making. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60(6), 941-951.

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Here at Lead Read Today, we endeavor to take an objective (rational, scientific) approach to analyzing leaders and leadership. All opinion pieces will be reviewed for appropriateness, and the opinions shared are solely of the author and not representative of The Ohio State University or any of its affiliates.