I once took a leadership course at Yale University in the US, which included several group exercises that tested our skills.
One of the exercises involved a situation where a dispute could arise between members of management due to limited parking space at their workplace. The professor asked us to come up with a solution that would satisfy all members of management.
One of my colleagues immediately replied that he did not need to consult with his colleagues as CEO. He made the decision and everyone had to agree with him.
Factors such as our cultural background, identity, and the environment in which our businesses operate influence our decision making. I saw this in my course at Yale and also among my teammates.
But if there’s one thing that affects decision makers, regardless of their background, it’s making the right decisions in times of uncertainty.
I can’t recall a time in the last couple of years when my business partners and I have discussed making tough decisions.
As qualified as I am to make decisions, navigating business during the Covid-19 pandemic has slowed my decision-making process.
I take some time to think about a situation and make the right decision. I consulted a lot of people and did more research.
During these times I thought more about how each decision would affect my business, my team and our overall performance.
I remember how one of my business friends decided to take a year off because she was so overwhelmed by the decision-making process that it was better not to make any decisions and wait until the pandemic was over.
Of course, she had the luxury of quitting her job – something many entrepreneurs don’t get to do.
But as I weathered the pandemic, I found that one thing that helped me navigate the tough times was thinking about how each decision I made aligned with my business mission and vision.
We begin each decision-making exercise with several questions: Is this decision aligned with our mission and goals? How will it affect our team and our customers?
Another helpful approach is to make sure we create a culture where employees feel comfortable making suggestions.
We usually have monthly meetings where everyone is invited and our team raises concerns and suggests ideas.
But my business friends and I have noticed that not everyone feels comfortable sharing tips. Some were shy to speak up in a large group, while others did not want to appear to have a different opinion than managers and team members.
To receive the best feedback and make the right decisions, we need to create spaces where employees can give feedback without judgment.
This can take a variety of forms, such as an open-door policy where employees can directly email business leaders or schedule online meetings.
We don’t know what the coming years will bring, but if we set up the right decision-making processes and culture, it will be easier to make the right decisions.
Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi.
Updated: September 19, 2022, 4:00 am