Becoming a manager comes with a multitude of responsibilities which primarily depend on your ability to lead your team efficiently and productively. This means that a great level of trust has been put into you and naturally, you will want to prove yourself to be up to the task. The role you’ve been promoted to is jargon-heavy and may have you reaching for the literature and advice to help you make the best decisions and choices to confirm that C-suite was right in promoting you; and this may result in getting bogged down by the vast amount of literature, flow-charts, exercises and the like, which will leave you unable to see the wood for the trees.

Google’s Project Oxygen attempted to understand what makes a good manager and interestingly, their findings were underwhelmingly simple. They involved various traits whose lynch-pin was fair, efficient, effective and involved decision-making. Soft-skills may well be a buzz-word these days but having a strong sense of empathy for the members of your team, coupled with sensible understanding is very important in helping you exercise good judgement.

The racquet is in your hand, the ball is in your court, and it’s up to you to serve and score with the best judgement at your disposal. Here are four ways to help you gain advantage and game, set, match:

  1. Listen

Part of being a good leader is to truly listen to your team and get feedback from them to help you understand how to navigate their boat. You’re their captain and they rely on you to set the tone and the example. Micromanaging and running a tight ship without proper explanation or without allowing them to give their input in certain aspects of decision making will only lead to mutiny. You may not always get it completely right, but your personality, the ability to make measured and reliable decisions and they way your team views you means that even if the outcome is not always the most optimal one, you will have managed wisely.  Phil McGraw says that “Sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you make the decision right.” Making the decision right, does not mean forcing others into agreeing with you, but gaining other team members’ approval because they actually trust your judgement.

  1. Evaluate deeply

Critical thinking is crucial to solid decision making and it’s such a sought-after skill, that there are several tests designed precisely to evaluate it. While used in law-firm recruitment processes abroad, the Watson Glaser test is one such example; which relies on the test subjects to be aware of both complex language structures as well as the common logical fallacies in philosophy and logic. The latter is a good to start understanding how to notice flaws in arguments and discussions, therefore affecting decision making. It’s not so much about pros and cons as it is about understanding the complexities of assumptions and deductions that people make. Therefore, look at things well – look at impacts and the greater picture as well as just how your area might be affected by a project and the direction you choose. And never underestimate the power of collaborative decision making by involving other trusted team members and asking for their take or opinion on certain matters. It is intrinsically linked to the listening skill that was mentioned above: this added team involvement makes your management style an open and receptive one, building trust and respect.

  1. Follow the data… and your gut

Malcolm Gladwell was right when he said that “Truly successful decision-making relies on a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking.” Follow trusted and proven evidence to back up your choices and inform your decision process. Facts and numbers rarely lie and these must form the basis of your decision making, however, don’t feel that you must be restricted only by them. Think of them as a framework to help avoid unnecessary second-guessing, but following your natural affinity for understanding problems and developing the correct solutions, based on experience and retrospective evaluation, will give you that required edge. A combination of these two types of thinking – deliberate and logic-based, coupled with instinctive and experiential is an ideal quality to have.

  1. Take your time

In this fast-paced world, more people in managerial and leadership positions are becoming aware of how important it is to truly slow down to be able to reflect properly. Many of our local CEOs have listed their aim to make time for mindfulness in their plans for 2024. But mindfulness doesn’t only help you to stay calm and destress, it actually helps you to think deeply and make creative, out-of-the-box connections between complex ideas and positions. This is incredibly important in fostering stronger, better judgement especially if it helps you re-align yourself with your personal as well as your company’s values; giving clarity to the way forward. Indeed, as Roy Disney put it: “Decision making is easy when your values are clear.”


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