Great ResignationClimate ChangeLeadershipInflationUkraine Invasion

How the CEO of This 100-Year-Old Company Makes Really Tough Decisions

April 2, 2016, 6:00 PM UTC
Business man has to choose between two way
Photograph via Getty Images

The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “When making a tough business decision, how do you know when to trust your gut?” is written by Scott Salmirs, president and CEO of ABM Industries.

Leaders constantly face business challenges. One of the toughest is knowing when to trust your gut instinct. While there is plenty of science to support trusting your gut, your decisions will usually have significant ramifications to the organization and your employees. I believe you have to have a combination of gut instinct and study to make the best decisions.

While ABM (ABM) is an established company that’s more than 100 years old, I’m fairly new to running the organization. One of my first challenges was to determine how to move the company forward in a facilities industry that has become increasingly dynamic. While I had a gut instinct to align closer with our clients and reorganize the company in that direction, we went through a rigorous process to pressure-test that hypothesis. This allowed us to validate and build consensus across our leadership team. When considering something as transformational as reorganizing a company, gut without study would have been a recipe for failure.

Business decisions have considerable personal and economic impact. I had to strike a real balance between listening to my gut and following a solid decision-making process.

To see our transition through and take the company in a whole new direction, I followed these decision-making pillars:

Don’t lose sight of the long term
While you might feel pressure to make a quick decision, always remember to keep your end goal and the big picture in mind. Consider the choices and how they address your long-term business plan. Use this as your compass, as it often helps to remove the pressure and reset priorities that will help you make the best, most unbiased decision.

See also: The First Thing You Should Do Before Making a Tough Decision

Leverage your experts
No decision should be made in a vacuum. Input from trusted advisors is essential to effective decision-making. This should include consulting inside personnel who have history with the company and understand the culture, as well as collaborating with external stakeholders who offer a fresh perspective.

Define a strategy and stick to it
Don’t avoid tough choices. Face the issues head on and have the courage to follow through. The hardest part of big decisions is having the courage to act. Be positive, take action, and keep moving forward.


Listen to your clients
As part of any decision-making process, understanding your clients and their particular needs is critical. Not losing sight of them and determining how to truly partner with them allows you to cut through the noise and get to the heart of the matter. What will deliver the most value to your clients and stakeholders? That question has been at the core of many of our decisions as we transform the company.

Focus on the bottom line
As a leader, you should never take your eye off the prize—especially when making important business decisions. Don’t get lost in the hype around top-line growth as the sole measure of organizational health. It’s the bottom line that makes you successful in the long run. Striking a balance between top-line and bottom-line growth is the path that we have chosen.