One of the biggest mistakes I see in my corporate management seminars are professionals who want to be effective team leaders, but haven’t figured out the formula for doing so. It can be a difficult goal to achieve because you have to get a lot of different personalities on the same page to achieve the set goals.

Where many team leaders get stuck is stressing out about making decisions. Again, this is understandable because the stakes are high, and ultimately, it’s probably your head that’s going to roll if things go wrong.

Effective leadership skills: an initial map for decision making

That said, one of the characteristics of successful people is that they know how and when to make decisions. To that end, here are three things you can do to help you make the right decisions, faster, as a team leader.

Note: Of course, “correct” is subjective; what I mean by correct in this case is making the best decision with the tools/information you have at the time.

1. Consider your options: For example, suppose one of the decisions you face as a team leader is whether or not to take a territory from one sales rep and give it to another. In this case, you have two options, ie: (i) let sales rep A keep the territory; or (ii) give it to sales representative B.

So how do you decide what to do? This question leads us to the next step, which is…

2. Predict the outcome: This step causes confusion for many because an obvious question may be: “Can you really predict an outcome?” The short answer is: that’s not important. Because?

Well, look at it this way, the fact that you’re even considering taking a territory from Sales Rep A to give it to Sales Rep B means you’ve come to some kind of conclusion about how that territory is handled; otherwise, it wouldn’t even be on your radar, would it?

So the secret to success at this stage is asking yourself some hard questions, for example, why am I considering doing this, what are the consequences of doing it, and Am I willing to move on once I have made the decision?.

3. Assess Risk. Risk is what keeps many of us paralyzed, even when we have weighed the pros and cons, and gotten all kinds of data and input from others. And this is what separates effective team leaders from the rest.

While they may be afraid of risk, they realize it’s part of being a leader and go ahead anyway.

The reason this stage perplexes so many is because it goes to the heart of your situation, that is, what you have, what you want, and how badly you want the outcome. The key to success at this stage is knowing your strengths, your talents, what motivates you, and how to overcome obstacles.

In short, when you know and trust yourself (your instincts), you will have more confidence to make decisions and you will be a more effective manager as well.


Making better decisions is a skill that can be developed, just like being a effective team leader. Of course, there are many nuances that you will need to develop to do this. These three steps give you a point from which to start.

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