Lessons in Leadership: Decisions That Pay

Lessons in Leadership: Decisions That Pay

This Lesson in Leadership will help sales managers coach their team in making better decisions.

Every day we are faced with choices at work. Each of the choices we make impacts our lives, productivity, and opportunities in some fashion.

My decisions determine my destiny.

All decisions have consequences. As managers, we’ve learned every decision we make will either simplify or complicate our lives. If we make any decision without considering the long-term effects, the consequences we endure are often more taxing than the original decision situation.

Likewise, if you make decisions on the job which don’t reflect your #1 priority, you may also complicate your life and in turn diminish the satisfaction you might otherwise realize if you had maintained your focus on the bigger picture and the #1 priority.

It’s all up to me and the decisions I make.

Any employee may make hundreds of decisions at work every day. Some of them have a productive outcome and some of them don’t. As you navigate through the daily routines of work you’re often called on to make decisions based on shifting priorities. What’s urgent and what’s not? What’s right and what’s wrong? What’s good for you and what’s not? And what will more likely make others happy or unhappy?

Two motivators influence everyone. These motivators are the avoidance of pain and the pursuit of gain. These two decision catalysts have certain unfortunate outcomes in common.

  1. When we focus only on the short-term avoidance of pain we often create for ourselves longer-term pain.
  2. When we focus only on the short-term pursuit of gain we can also create for ourselves longer-term pain.

As regretful as these seemingly inevitable outcomes are, many people continue to make short-term decisions because it sometimes feels more rewarding to avoid the pain of change and/or the current task than it does to achieve a future reward based on effective long-term decision making and doing something differently.

For example:

Choosing not to accurately record and process the information of your daily work may feel like you’re cutting yourself some slack at the moment you make the choice. But at some point you or someone else will need those details. When that information is needed but unavailable, you and others may feel frustrated because you neglected to record the information when you should have.

Short-term decisions can create long-term consequences.

We are concerned for you. Our management concern stems from the knowledge that when you make short-term decisions it quite often complicates your life.

You would never consider crossing a busy highway while looking only at your feet! Of course you wouldn’t. If you were crossing a busy highway you’d look across, left, and right continuously until you were safely on the other side. Making short-term decisions can create dire consequences, just like blindly crossing a busy street.

Make decisions for today, but keep tomorrow in mind.

We managers have learned the value of making decisions from a long-term mindset. Company policy decisions must include employee, customer, and cost impact considerations. Work procedure decisions must continue to reflect the longer-term outcomes we hope to produce. Even smaller, everyday decisions we make as your managers must include the long-term concerns of doing what’s best for everyone involved. Would you really want us to make decisions about you and your work by only considering what the short-term consequences or rewards for us as managers might be? No, of course not.

Good Intentions + Good Plans + Good Actions = Great Future

Understanding the positive and negative impact of long-term and short-term thinking is the first step in making decisions that will improve your life, make your job easier, reduce stress, and provide personal satisfaction. You create your best future when you make choices and decisions knowing that your future is yours to create. Your decisions and actions, when based on priorities and plans, are much more potent than anything you might choose when simply reacting to the current conditions or environment where you work. In addition, by making good choices based on the proactive foundation of long-term thinking, you actually begin to create a future for yourself that will most likely contain fewer difficult choices. It’s a definite work advantage for you. You make fewer mistakes now and, by doing so, you create a more pleasurable, productive, and stress-free future!


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