4 Steps to Take When Facing Tough Decisions

Throughout our leadership journey, we are called to make hard choices.

Sometimes those choices are related to the team we lead, sometimes they are related to the direction of our organization, and sometimes those hard choices are more personal — and as such, they are connected to our growth as humans and leaders.

There are times in life when we are at a crossroads, and we must choose which path to take next. There are times when we just don’t have the luxury to be hesitant, we must choose! This can be very frustrating journey, to choose.

Ruth Chang, a professor of philosophy at Rutgers University, says that hard choices seem to be occasions for agonizing, hand-wringing, the gnashing of teeth. But she also believes that understanding hard choices uncovers a hidden power each of us possesses.

What is this hidden power and how can leaders use it when they are at a crossroads and need to make hard choices for themselves or on behalf of their organizations?

This hidden power lies in our ability to create reasons for ourselves when facing hard choices, and we can put ourselves behind an option accordingly. Our reasons should be connected to what we stand for, to our values, and to who we really are.

When we use our hidden power, our response to hard choices is not dictated by reasons given to us, we create reasons for ourselves to become the kind of people and leaders that we want to be.

4 Steps to Take When Facing Tough Decisions

As a leader and manager, when facing hard choices, here is what you can do:

1. Trust yourself and know yourself. At CCL, we believe that leaders who know themselves and who are constantly aware and reflective about what is really important to them are the most effective for their teams and organizations.

When facing hard choices, value-based leaders who are driven by authenticity and respect for others will create reasons behind each choice according to who they really are and according to their human values. When it comes to organizational decisions, they will also base their decisions on the organization’s culture and value systems for the benefit of their people and business.

2. Surround yourself with sounding boards. Surround yourself with people whom you trust and can give you additional insights.

Asking trusted advisers often sheds light on how you should understand the options. Remember, the process isn’t about you alone. It’s about others as well, and what they need from you as their leader or manager.

But ultimately, you need to make your own decision. After all, this is your individual task and journey to decide and choose.

3. Be a good integrator. When you are on the verge of making an important decision, be comfortable with the fact that you don’t have all the information. Sometimes you’ll need to integrate and take into account new data and perspectives.

4. Finally, use your own power of reasoning and meaning-making. Connect to your core being, think about what is important to you, to your team, and your organization. Then choose — and become the leader you aspire to be.

Good luck in practicing hard choices in leadership. Please share with us your stories on dealing with them.

About the Author

Vered AsifVered is a global professional and thought leader on topics related to leadership development and organizational development, leadership strategy, and organizational transformation. She has co-authored and published white papers and articles on various topics such as networks, leadership strategy, and societal impact.

She has held various global roles in Europe and Africa with the Center for Creative Leadership as faculty and manager, within the Senior Leadership Solutions practice area.

Vered is currently Leadership Solutions Associate for the EMEA region with the Center. In addition, she has established her own consulting practice in her home country, Israel.

She holds a bachelor of arts degree in sociology and anthropology and a master of arts degree in organizational sociology and critical thinking, both from Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.

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