What Characterizes a Good Decision-Maker?


If you’ve been reading my newsletter or blog for a while, you know that I’ve been involved in a high-level mastermind group. One of the most significant takeaways I had from my last group was the importance of learning to make good high-quality decisions, something that many of us value on both an intuitive and a practical level.

I had the opportunity to learn about making better decisions from a panel made up of people who are recognized in large part due to the results they get as extremely effective decision-makers. Based upon what I learned, I want to offer you a way to think about making high-quality decisions so that the actions you take are more likely to give you the results that you want.

I would like to start out with a question. Think back to a time when you made a really good decision. Now ask yourself, “What made this a good decision?” Was it the outcome, or was it some other factor?

Next I want you to think of a time when you made a decision that you think was a poor decision. What made it a poor decision? Contrast the two decisions, noticing in particular the different way you went about making each of these decisions.

I want you to observe that certain factors will likely have emerged from this brief experiment. One of the areas that is useful to discover is whether 1) you had to choose from a number of options, which meant you were likely going for the best option, or 2) you had to choose between two conflicting choices.

Another thing to consider is whether the results of your choice affected only you, many people or perhaps a larger system. One other factor to reflect on is whether the outcomes of each option were known or predictable. If the outcomes were uncertain, it made it difficult to predict the results of your choice.

So notice already the different factors that influence decision-making. I think there is yet another element that often gets overlooked in decision-making, and that is the beliefs you already have about your abilities to make decisions. Do you believe you’re a good decision-maker? If you don’t, you may have a tendency to put off making decisions, which can be problematic.

You can see this a multilayered process. So what makes a good decision-maker?

Characteristics and Actions of Successful Decision Makers

Here are the characteristics I observed among those on the panel I witnessed, which was comprised of people who are extremely successful in business and personal arenas:

  1. They all thought of themselves as good decision-makers.
  2. They thought that being good at their job meant that they had to make good decisions.
  3. They tended to think of themselves as good decision-makers in their personal lives.
  4. They understood that many of the decisions they were making had major consequences. Because of that they all recognized the importance of taking time to make high-quality decisions. In fact one of them articulated that the more important the decision, the more time he was willing to take. All of them took less time to make less important decisions.
  5. They all started by getting themselves into effective decision-making states. For instance they relaxed and set time aside for the decision.
  6. They all sought input from people they trusted. Sometimes they sought input at the beginning of the process and sometimes more towards the end. All were willing to have people that they trusted challenge their decisions.
  7. They all sought the highest quality information they could, which meant they considered multiple sources.
  8. They identified why it was important to make the decision and what values were at stake. Many of their decisions involved their company’s growth as well as high financial risks and rewards. Sometimes the stakes included maintaining high-quality relationships with current people or potential future partners.
  9. They considered the long-term implications of current decisions.
  10. Each of them also demonstrated an ability to think systemically. For example, they understood that whatever decision they made could have potential impacts in systems outside of theirs. They also recognized that a business decision that made sense in one context might actually be problematic in another.
  11. One of the most fascinating commonalities they all shared was a combination of rational consideration and a willingness to trust their intuition, even if that intuition didn’t make logical sense. Some of them expressed this as “trusting their guts” while others talked about the importance of “listening to their heart.” They often spoke of taking time to pray or meditate in order to tap into another level of consciousness.
  12. Finally, they all had criteria or values that they would not compromise.

So what can be learned from this?

  1. If you want to be a high-level performer, you must be willing to make high-level decisions.
  2. You must be clear about your values when you prepare to make a decision.
  3. You must be willing to seek information that might be at odds with what you desire your outcome to be and learn to treat oppositional information or feedback as information.
  4. You must learn to develop your intuition and trust it.
  5. You need to develop a group of advisors that you would trust to evaluate your decisions.

The final element I’d like to add is that you must be willing to learn from your “bad” decisions. All of the panelists had experienced these, and as one of them said, “Don’t miss the opportunity to learn from a bad mistake.”

I like to collect stories about belief change experiences. If you have any interesting ones, let me know or post them below so I can comment on them in subsequent articles or posts.

P.S. Do you want to share this post? Please do. Just be sure that it remains intact and includes the following bio.


About Terry: Terry Hickey, M.S., is a Certified NLP Professional Coach, Business Trainer and Consultant, a Certified Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming and the co-owner of NLP Advantage Group. Originator of the Belief Breakthrough Method™, Terry specializes in teaching coaches and entrepreneurs how to rapidly resolve limiting beliefs about wealth and success. His tips and strategies can help you launch yourself into the future you want… NOW. http://terryhickey.com/


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