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8 Most Effective Tips to Improve First-Time Leaders' Decision-Making Skills


First-time managers face a number of challenges as they step into leadership roles within their organizations. These challenges can range from communication to working with individuals of varying personalities to knowing when is the right time to release an employee from their position. 

One of the largest challenges they face and the one that is found in every aspect of leadership is decision-making. According to management consultant, Peter Drucker, “What­ever a manager does he does through making decisions.” 

As such an essential part of management, you’ll want to improve decision-making skills among your management team to ensure that they have the best possible opportunity to succeed. The best way to do this is by providing leadership training to your current and your future managers.

The Crucial Role of Decision-Making In Management

Ideally, your organization has a strong vision and clear goals that provide a “North Star” for manager decision-making. However, even with such an obvious end-point in sight, your leadership team will still spend their days making one decision after another. A manager’s inability to make an educated, quick, confident decision could spell disaster for the future of your organization, whether the subject matter is strategy, product development, personnel, or anything else. This is why it’s so essential to improve decision-making skills for your new managers.

8 Tips to Improve First-Time Leaders' Decision-Making Skills

The ability to make decisions properly is what will determine an individual’s effectiveness as a leader. Thankfully, there are a number of techniques you can use to improve decision-making skills for your managers.

1) Identify The Desired Outcome

If you were about to take a road trip, there would be a number of decisions to make. You’d want to know:

  •       What route you should take.
  •       What should you pack for your road trip?
  •       Do you need to bring snacks and food for the drive?

Of course, you can’t make any of those decisions until you’ve determined one very important thing… where are you going?

Without knowing your desired destination or outcome, decision-making is moot. Managers must identify what they’d like to get out of their decisions (ie: business objectives) and making them will be a lot easier.

2) Learn From Experience 

“They’re brand new… they have no experience.”

While your first-time managers may not have experience leading, they were likely promoted for a reason. They’ve probably excelled in their area and shown foresight that will make them good managers. This all counts as experience and can be used to draw upon as they make decisions. Of course, there’s another type of experience: other peoples’. Matching first-time managers with a mentor they can go to with their challenges will ensure a smoother transition and help improve decision-making skills.

3) Look to The Data 

Whenever a decision needs to be made, there are a number of data points and pieces of evidence that can be taken into consideration. Review the information available to you and consider whether there is data currently unavailable to you that will be essential in the decision-making process.

4) Consider Your “North Star”

In any decision-making process, it’s important to take the values and the vision of the organization into account. Understanding who the organization is as an entity, and what they stand for, can make decisions significantly easier. Every decision must ultimately lead to that North Star.

5) Look to Others For Guidance 

To be clear, we’re not advocating looking to others for a decision. After all, decision-making is the job of the manager. However, when the decision to be made would benefit from input from front-line workers, other departments, outside consultants, or even customers, it’s completely acceptable to seek their opinions. You can even take their recommendations under consideration, as long as ultimately, the decision is yours.

6) Listen to Your Gut… Sometimes

Yes, your “gut intuition” can often provide a great deal of insight into a problem and its potential solutions. The key to using your gut is determining when you are acting on past regrets, future fears, or present biases. Whenever possible, decision-makers must take some time to sit quietly and understand where that “gut feeling” is coming from. Is it true intuition stemming from a positive emotion and a clear desired outcome or a fear-based reaction? Armed with this information, “listening to your gut” becomes a much wiser decision.

7) Accept That You Won’t Always be Right

A manager can follow all the decision-making tips and processes in the world… and still be wrong. This may be a difficult fact to embrace, though it’s essential to understand for both the first-time manager and the leadership team they work under. Even with every piece of evidence available to someone at the moment, guidance from the most-trusted peers and mentors, input from the frontline, and the best gut instinct in the world, a decision-maker won’t always be right. Understanding this prevents first-time managers from getting bogged down in indecision and paralyzed from making the wrong choice for fear of discipline.

The only thing anyone can do after making the wrong decision is to learn from the experience and vow to improve decision-making skills going forward.

8) Consider What Happens if You Don’t Decide

Oftentimes, if leaders haven’t taken the time to improve their decision-making skills, they become paralyzed by the options and unable to make any decision at all. Unfortunately, doing nothing is in itself a decision… and not a good one. When faced with the fear of making a decision, one must weigh the costs of making the wrong decision against the costs of making no decision at all. You’ll likely find that a wrong decision can be remedied, while no decision at all can be dangerous.


Gain Decision-Making Skills Through Rapport U Leader Series

In order to help first-time managers learn decision-making, Rapport has developed the Rapport U Leader Series. This nine-month blended learning experience includes seven, self-paced courses along with the guidance of a Rapport trainer. 

These courses will enable learners to better understand themselves, as well as their communication and leadership styles, build stronger relationships with team members and employees, improve decision-making skills, take responsibility for themselves and their choices, and become the manager they’ve always wanted to have. The Rapport U Leader Series is the first crucial step to new leaders actualizing their potential.

Get First-Time Leaders Ready for Their Role With Rapport U 

With new managers joining the ranks of leadership every day, it’s essential to set them up for success. Working to improve decision-making skills is one of the best ways to do this. With the right training, your first-time managers will embrace their roles and excel in their responsibilities. Give your new leaders a leg up on the future and sign them up for the Rapport U Leader Series today!