If I need to pivot or change a decision, I no longer worry how this
will make me look, as I’m doing what’s best for the company. That’s
operating with integrity, and decisions that you make with integrity are
the ones you can sleep with.
3. Apply rigor
You know you’re of track when every decision feels like starting over.
When you treat decision-making as a discipline and apply rigor, you
won’t feel like you’re starting from scratch each time. Rigor has allowed
me to make decisions faster and with more accuracy.
Part of the rigor is seeking input from others — especially those who
think diferently from you — while understanding how to flter and
synthesize the insights you receive.
• I pay attention to my instincts, listening to my gut without
• I exercise judgment in my choices, drawing on data and
experiences to reach conclusions.
• The perspectives of my peers, mentors and employees inform—
but do not dictate—my decisions.
This is not a sequential process but rather a fuid one, where the three
principles work in tandem with each other. I know I’ve reached a good
decision when it passes the “MVP test”: It aligns with the mission, vision
and purpose of my company.
Let me share an anecdote that stands in contrast to the frst story. Years
ago, after talking through some business challenges with my CEO peers,
I started to think about whether it made sense to create a CFO position.
I talked to colleagues about my dilemma, thought about the fnancial
implications of the hire, and listened to my gut when reviewing my
options. I stuck to my vetting process. Ultimately, I decided to make the
hire. It turned out to be one of the best decisions of my career. The CFO
who I chose was worth his weight in gold. He made changes to the
company that increased its value exponentially.
Just like every other CEO, I’m a work in progress. I still make mistakes,
but fewer than I used to, because I invest time and energy in my
The process outlined here works for me, but is by no means the only
way to make a good decision. Take my drivers as inputs to developing
your own. Decision-making is a process that’s unique to the individual,
so it’s important to develop a model that feels authentic to you. After all,
it’s not the model that matters most. What counts is that you rigorously
apply a conscious process that leads to better decisions — and better
results for your frm.
every decision I make is uniquely mine.
I also ensure that I have enough context to make an informed decision.
You have to understand at least some of the details; otherwise, you run
the risk of relying too much on assumptions. Applying rigor to outside
input makes the decision-making process easier because it gives me
clarity and direction.
4. Allow for time and space
A high-pressure work environment, coupled with the scarcity of time,
can cause a new CEO to make decisions in a hasty or haphazard way.
As a newcomer to the C-Suite, I didn’t allow myself the time and space
to tune out the noise and fully process a decision.
I have since learned to slow down and designate time to process
decisions without interruption. I treat decision-making as a marathon
instead of a sprint. I set aside a chunk of time every day to engage in
quiet refection and work through decisions. Don’t be afraid to tell
people, “This decision is going to take some time.”
Developing your decision-making process
When I’m making a decision, I apply a process that’s based on three
Your tendency may be to talk to as many people
as possible about the situation and then make
a decision based on what the majority says. My
disastrous hire reveals a potential pitfall in relying
on majority opinion. In my approach now, I listen
to other people’s opinions but process them
diferently than I did as a young CEO. I treat them
as inputs instead of instruction and make sure that
““Rigorously apply a conscious process that leads to beter decisions — and beter results for your frm.”
CEO, Vistage Worldwide, Inc.
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