Making Decisions – Focus, tools, and habits for decisive leaders

August 19, 2020 | General

Making Decisions

Making decisions. We can’t not decide. And especially if we convince ourselves that it’s better not to decide, things can become dangerous for us and others. In the short term, we avoid costs or work, however we frequently just sweep problems and the need for action under the rug, which in the end can be more costly. Postponed is not abandoned.

Only the person who makes a decision, who moves, changes and improves the situation. If we do not decide consciously and courageously, we miss out on opportunities, precisely because we delay, postpone or do not act. We do not do ourselves and others any good this way since not deciding also has to do with unhealthy avoidance behavior and a poor example.

What enriches life and also the business world is a positive decision-making culture, which counteracts the otherwise unavoidable case of mediocrity: a proactive culture that encourages personal and collective effectiveness, value creation, and appreciation, and makes clear that decisions are important and valuable. This is how decisiveness, decision-making power, and decision-making expertise can thrive. Decisions that have a positive effect become a professional habit.

In these volatile, insecure, and complex times, decisions are not a choice for us. If we do not ourselves decide and assume management responsibility for our lives, our jobs, and our reality, someone else will do this for us. At some point, someone who doesn’t decide starts to saw and saws more and more; and this on “trees” or “construction sites” that he didn’t even select himself. Anyone who does not decide on a strategic direction or future image and pursue measurable goals and clear strategies in everyday life will be affected by “firefighting mode.” Many people and companies waste up to 80% of their energy, resources, time, and money playing “fire department,” in their daily fight against mails, spontaneous tasks, ad hoc problems, endless distractions, and a non-prioritized reality due to lazy decision-making and inertia. Sooner or later, someone who does not decide consciously to select and prioritize the important and urgent “inputs” in life will be struck by a flood of determination by others and overloading. An unpleasant side-effect is that only a fraction remains for the actual routine and the relevant value-creating daily business; that is, the remaining 20% in order to get things even halfway in good order. What doesn’t remain is room for play for improvement, consciously designed change, time for ideas or even buffer time.

Excellent managers and top companies approach things differently and consciously shape their realities by making decisions. They decide obsessively, persistently, and teachably for a clear focus, they use a few critical tools, and maintain the best habits in the short, medium, and long term in order to put the right things in order the right way. For example, with the decision-making routine: what’s the situation? For us and others (customers, competitors, stakeholders, etc.)? What needs to be done (vision, strategy, goals, etc.)? What will we do in which sequence with which priorities: who will do what when where how with whom and why? Such decision-makers reduce the inhibiting (but not completely avoidable) firefighting mode radically – by up to 30% – in that they distinguish what’s important, what’s urgent, and what’s effective. As a result, they decide consciously and consistently to proceed with positive “nos” and “systematic garbage” against non-important and non-urgent distractions. A strategic view of the overall goal helps, for example, what’s necessary now? What’s important? What works? What are the next steps?

With this, excellent managers gain room for play in many respects. For example, they no longer shape actual everyday business and necessary routines “well enough,” but rather outstandingly. They consciously define and communicate a motivating vision and create adequate strategies and structures and establish effective systems, intelligent standards, and the constant empowerment of participating people. Excellence requires time, discipline, and the consistent striving for clever simplification, true effect, and ideas that do not waste energy, resources, money, and focus.

Someone who purposefully slims down and shapes everyday business optimally through conscious decisions and principles of constant change and forward movement gains the freedom to think about and implement ideas, improvement, and development. In an “idea age,” projects and solutions become possible that make it possible, not just in the present but in the future, to do the right things in the right way and to have fun and achieve results.

Top companies and managers invest up to 30% of their time, energy, resources, and budgets in decision-making, room for play, and creating buffers for continuous evolution. Someone who leads others and inspires them, very consciously leaves time and space for results, improvement, and development, will be rewarded regularly.

True decision-makers make it their mission and passion to leave with a “smile” every day and to help people and their organizations become the best version of themselves. What helps here are clear decisions and implementation through leadership by example. One last thing in closing: the “smile” – the pleasure in decision-making – inspires power and intelligence. Personally, I remember this with the acronym “SMILE,” which I would like to share with our readers:

  • Strategic vision: I know the situation and the goal. I place the focus on goal-oriented effect.
  • Mission is passion: I live and lead in goal-oriented fashion with passion. Love decisions!
  • Inspiration from the best: I study the best examples even before this is necessary.
  • Live: lead yourself and others. Decide and do THE RIGHT things right.
  • Effect decisions: decisions shape our results, successes, and personality.


Florian T. Hochenrieder, Partner, STAUFEN.AG

“Frequently the decisions that we don’t make are the most expensive, damaging, and dangerous ones.“ E-mail:

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