Avoiding Snap Decisions


Earlier I talked about a character flaw that was wreaking havoc on my leadership – impulsiveness.

Impulsiveness is acting without forethought. For me, it occurs when I’m under pressure from other areas of my life or when I fail to plan but need to make a decision. There’s a fine line between moving quickly with precision and moving quickly because you feel the need to keep pace.

Watching my four-year-old daughter run across the kitchen quickly with scissors begs the need to step in because I know she doesn’t have the experience to fully understand the consequences of her actions and she doesn’t have the motor skills developed to always stay on her feet.

If you want to be a successful leader that goes the distance you’ll need to discipline yourself to avoid impulsive decision making.

Here are a few techniques I’ve learned and continue to practice of making intentional decisions:

  • Seek Outside Objective Opinions. For decisions that could have consequences on other people, write down your thoughts and run it by a team, spouse or trusted objective adviser such as your accountant or coach.
  • Extend the Time. Most impulse decisions are made because of time pressure. Understand the expectations for an answer but ask for an extension to think it through carefully. I always save potentially emotional emails in a draft folder and sit on them overnight before sending…I’m always thankful I did.
  • Planning is Critical. A business without a strategic plan is a boat drifting at sea. You stay busy but you don’t go anywhere. Always be looking to block time off in your calendar so you can continue to develop a plan that helps keep everyone focused. All decisions should reflect a larger strategy and objectives.
  • Self-Control Training. The Christian faith uses the Jewish tradition of fasting (intentionally passing on food and only consuming liquids for a day) to instill the virtues of self-control. Give fasting a try! You’ll be amazed at the discipline it starts to create as you’re forced to conquer your natural impulses. Do it once per month to start.

Try one of these techniques out this week and let me know how it goes.