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A Glimpse Inside The Minds of 5 Great CEOs And Their Secrets To Good And Swift Decision-Making

A Glimpse Inside The Minds of 5 Great CEOs And Their Secrets To Good And Swift Decision-Making

The greatest CEOs make decisions all the time. They just don’t make them like most of us do.They don’t agonize and deliberate over decisions. They make decisions on the fly and they do it with swiftness and purpose.

How?

They have a structured, minimalist approach to decision making. The decision making process is as sleek as a fighter jet is aerodynamic.

In this post we’ll look at some of the greatest CEOs in recent history and I’ll show you exactly how their individual decision making approaches led their corporations into the history books.

On the face of it, decision-making sounds really complicated and scary. The truth is all great CEOs have a specific approach to decision-making – a clear decision making framework.

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Sure, every great CEO operates with his or her own signature style. But, one thing’s common to all of their approaches: they have their decision-making rules in place long before they even approach a decision.

This enables them to make decisions quickly and consistently in line with their chosen direction. They also used this framework to delegate decision-making through their organisations.

Are their decisions always right? No. But are they always consistent with direction that the CEO decided upon at the start of the company’s journey. You betcha!

And it’s the consistency over time that’s aligned with one direction that has led these companies into the history books.

Another interesting thing about these CEOs – they used their decision making frameworks to buck the trend. They did something radical. They all did something that flew in the face of conventional wisdom. They zigged when the world zagged.

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Let’s have a closer look at five of these game changing CEOs.

1. Steve Jobs (Apple)

Jobs adopted a minimalist approach and ruthlessly axed more than 70% of Apple’s product lines as soon as he was reinstated as CEO in an amazing turn of events (after having been ousted as CEO a few years earlier). He had one main focus : delivering spectacular customer experience innovative design and simplicity of use.He even cancelled the Newton PDA which wasn’t a very popular decision at the time. But Steve’s minimalist approach to product design was clearly in place well before he made these decisions.

2. Warren Buffett (Berkshire Hathaway)

Warren Buffett is unquestionably the greatest investor of all time. His approach to making investments boiled down to buying into great companies when they were undervalued by the market and selling them when they were overvalued. Having started with nothing, Warren Buffett’s personal assets were valued at around $57 billion when he was ranked the richest man in the world. Buffett’s approach to decision-making around investing is very clear. If you’re not going to hold a stock for 10 years then don’t hold it for 10 minutes. Once again, Buffett’s decision-making framework was well in place before he made a single investment decision. He continues to operate with essentially the same decision-making framework that he had in the 1970s.

3. Jack Welch (General Electric)

Welch focused on three strategic circles and insisted that they rank within the first two globally. In 1981, Welch declared that his company would focus its operations on three strategic circles. Each of the businesses had to rank first or second in its global market. Any businesses that didn’t rank in the first two were disposed of. By 1988, its 300,000 employees generated revenues of more than $50 billion and net income of 3.4 billion.

Jack didn’t suffer fools. He got very clear about his objectives, developed a clear decision-making framework and   then executed on it.

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4. Richard Branson (Virgin Group)

Branson focused on customers and not critics. This overarching approach helped Branson make controversial decisions to enter very competitive new markets such as airlines – something analysts frowned upon at the time. Since then Branson’s led Virgin into mobile phone services, financial services and expanded to about 40 companies that span a myriad of other industries. Like Jobs, Branson let his customers priorities direct his decisions. He successfully defied ‘conventional wisdom’ and made his mark in very challenging environments.

5. Jeff Bezos (Amazon)

Jeff Bezos has an uncanny ability to understand the truth of situations and how they may change in the near future. He uses this approach to defy conventional wisdom about how things should be done, and makes revolutionary game changing decisions.  Amazon has revolutionised the way we shop over the last 20 years and continues to do so.

How to become a great decision maker

Here’s the thing about being a great decision maker: You become a great decision maker by making decisions often. It’s like anything. You get better with practice.

Sure, you’re going to screw up quite a lot at first. Every one of these people did. But they got better with practice.

Decision making is a skill that develops over time. And you can’t develop the skill in a vacuum either. You can’t spend hours agonizing over each decision and then tentatively placing your bets. if you want to join the big league then you’re going to have to take risks. Often! But the more risks you take, and the more mistakes you make the better you get at making decisions.

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You can do this

You want to become a great decision maker? You can. You want to walk into the history books? You can. Start by making decisions on the small things today. Decide on doing one small thing right now. Write it down on a piece of paper and then go and do it. You’ll be amazed at how empowered this makes you feel. It all starts from one small decision.

What are you going to decide today?

 

Featured photo credit: Richie, Robert Yarnal via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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