Taking a Look at the Big Picture

Success as a manager depends upon accepting your responsibility as a leader. To function effectively as a leader, you must make some choices about your role within the organization, your priorities as a manager, and the values by which you live. You must know who you are, both personally and as part of the whole organization. Without such self-knowledge, it is difficult to make good decisions and take action on them. Successful management grows out of a consistent and constructive attitude toward other people and how they should be treated.

The Manager as Decision Maker

When you make good decisions, you influence morale, overcome obstacles, solve problems, and increase productivity. You select among various options. You create opportunities. You often make one decision after another from the time you arrive at work until you leave at the end of the day. Even while you sleep, your subconscious mind, like a high speed computer, sorts data, arranges facts, rejects and accepts possibilities, and arrives at decisions that you will make “instinctively” the following day. Under pressure, your mind works rapidly to sort and analyze the information you need to make an immediate decision in a crisis situation.

Many of the decisions you make every day can be made quickly and efficiently with little conscious effort. Your former experience, the knowledge you have about the organization and the people in it, and many other factors have produced habit patterns that enable you to decide immediately what should be done in specific situations. Occasionally, however, a much more important decision must be made. Because it will have far-reaching effects on the success of the organization, the lives of individuals, and the productivity of your team, you realize that it is important to make the best possible decision.

Good decision making follows a precise pattern. For relatively routine decisions, the pattern may be followed mentally in a matter of seconds. An associate may ask, “Who needs to receive copies of this schedule?” You can make an instant decision because you already know who and what are affected. For major decisions, however, each step in the process may involve time, thought, research, and analysis. Six basic steps lead to good decisions:

  • Define desired results. Determine the purpose you want to achieve and list the criteria by which you will judge the effectiveness of the results. Criteria that must be met might include cost considerations, time limits, and quality. All further steps in the process will conform to these criteria.
  • List options. Brainstorm a list of possible decisions that might achieve the desired results. Be creative. Write out the list of possible decisions.
  • Project possible results. For each option, determine the results you could anticipate. For important decisions, make a chart. List the options down the left-hand column; add a column for each of the criteria you developed in Step 1. Rate each option on expected performance in regard to all criteria.
  • Request feedback. Request feedback from affected team members. Remain open to their ideas, basing your judgment on the merit of the feedback rather than the personalities involved.
  • Choose the best option. Make your choice with confidence. You have thoroughly studied your options, you have exercised your creativity and experience, and you have tapped the expertise of your team members. You are ready to move forward.
  • Implement the decision and request feedback. Once you have chosen the best option, immediately implement it. If necessary, develop a written plan for taking action. Tell everyone affected what decision has been made. Be sure to include in the action plan a provision for tracking results and making any adjustments needed.

When facing even the most weighty decisions, practical judgment plays an important role. It involves the capacity to see the big picture, to be realistic and reasonable, and to use sound judgment. Set priorities and put first things first.


Leadership Management® Institute
Reprinted with permission
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