The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question “How do you make tough business decisions?” is by Joanna O’Connell, CMO of MediaMath.
Every leader makes tough decisions differently, depending on their leadership style, which is often the result of prior experiences and personality type. Additionally, according to several studies gender also plays a role in how you lead and make decisions, particularly the tough ones. But there are several ways to make the process of making tough decisions easier regardless of these factors:
Even if the decision is ultimately yours to make, it helps to bring others into the process. However, women tend to be more comfortable with this approach of collaboration than men. Based on a March 2013 survey of 600 corporate board directors published in the International Journal of Business Governance and Ethics, women are more likely to focus on cooperation to make a fair decision that considers all parties impacted, whereas men use a rules-based approach and more traditional ways of engaging in business. So when applicable, solicit input from others with the right expertise who can provide more insight and perspective for the challenge you’re trying to solve.
Transparency is a buzzword in corporate America, and even more pervasive in my world of ad tech. But don’t discount the idea just because the word is oversaturated. Create a transparent working environment that opens up the lines of communication and eliminates the element of surprise for others when a specific outcome is finally unveiled. According to the third annual Ketchum Leadership Communication Monitor more individuals in business are prioritizing areas like communication and transparency than ever before. Of the 6,000 individuals surveyed, 74% said effective communication is “very important” to being a great leader, yet only 29% felt leaders actually communicate effectively.
Additionally, according to leadership consultant Robert Staub, better transparency happens when the decision-making process is linked to a “criteria screen” that considers the company’s mission and values when arriving at conclusions. When this is not done, there can be a sense in the organization that decisions are made without an overarching set of principles, which can lead to a lack of trust. Communication regarding important decisions should always trickle top-down to the rest of the business.
Opt for a “buy in” approach
Once you’ve come to a decision and communicated effectively, post-decision aftermath is also crucial. If you’re going to be transparent about the fact that you’re making a tough business decision, you’ll want to get critical support from others in your organization once your choice is finalized. Again, women focus on consensus-building but men are more likely to find executive sponsors for their initiatives, according to research published in a 2010 issue of Harvard Business Review. The executive team is helpful, but broad-based consensus is key to ensuring a decision resonates with your entire team.