Toss a Coin: How Three Business Leaders Make Decisions


The moment you step into a leadership role, you become a decision maker. Fortunately, many decisions have fairly obvious solutions. Others, however, can be serious puzzlers – and what you decide today can have major consequences for you, your company, your employees, your customers and other stakeholders tomorrow. In those situations you want to be able to move forward with confidence and clarity, but that is not always easy.

One thing is clear: you don’t want to get caught up in a perpetual cycle of analysis paralysis. That’s a surefire way to have default decisions made for you, and those decisions often don’t turn out very well. That’s why you need to come up with a framework for making decisions that will always work for you, regardless of the circumstances.

There is no uniform decision-making process that will serve every leader. You need to come up with the one that makes the most sense based on everything from your position to your leadership style. To help you build a decision-making pattern you can follow, take a look at how some successful entrepreneurs tackle their toughest conundrums and successfully make the toughest decisions of their careers.

1. Look at the problem from a new perspective.

Like so many other leaders, Donna Byrd’s entire business plan was turned upside down in 2020. As founder of Blue butterfly, Byrd and her team were about to launch their one-stop, digital funeral planning site when the pandemic hit. As she explains, after a year of building her company’s website and strategy, she had to shut everything down because the global shutdowns had rendered BlueButterfly’s original business model obsolete.

In the face of such difficult circumstances, Byrd decided to rethink everything. Instead of offering personal products, her employees came up with designs for virtual funerals. Although these designs were within the same industry, Byrd and her colleagues had to use different skills and rethink everything.

“We gathered and assessed the biggest pain points and needs for our audience; evaluated the myriad ways we could build something elegant, meaningful, and sustainable for our customers; and identified resources that can help us bring the new plans to life,” says Byrd.

Her decision to start over paid off. BlueButterfly is now a leading innovator in the funeral industry as its offerings make the final farewell more accessible and affordable for customers. And it’s all been possible because Byrd empowered and empowered her direct reports to completely rethink everything.

2. Do what’s hard but good for the long run of the company.

The second example of decision-making also stems from another impact of COVID-19, which is the restriction on global travel. Robert Hoffman, the CEO of Exchange of America, was in Seoul when he first learned that a virus was spreading around the world. Immediately he was reminded of similar outbreaks, but somehow he knew this was going to be a huge problem. It was a particularly difficult realization given that his business focuses on providing currency exchange services.

Within a week, he made what he calls an “impossibly difficult” decision. After evaluating how the evolving scenario could affect Xchange of America’s business, he decided to close nine of his company’s physical locations. Hoffman describes his decision-making at the time as one of “critical intuition.”

“My decision-making style in this situation could be described as ‘critical intuition,’ since I didn’t have time to collect large amounts of data to assess… and I had to act quickly,” says Hoffman. my experience in the industry, knowledge of international travel regulations and predictive models.”

While the calls to commercial property employees and landlords were painful, Hoffman is glad he took immediate action instead of waiting. Many of its competitors didn’t take such a proactive stance, while Hoffman made sure to keep his brand alive.

3. Resist the temptation to find the “perfect” solution.

In his position as CEO of Mongoose, Dave Marshall leans into imperfections with his three-step decision-making process. When faced with difficult situations, he first de-escalates the consequences by asking himself, “Is this a decision that would be hard to undo?” ”

He then empowers his team members to make decisions so that everyone can express their views and work together. Finally, he acts wholeheartedly whatever the decision is, as long as the decision is the right one at the time.

“I never made the mistake of recognizing that no decision maker (or decision made) is perfect—nor need be,” advises Marshall. “Perfection is not the goal. I opened opportunities to learn when I sold my first company, and similarly I opened opportunities to learn when I decided not to sell my second company. At the end of the day, either decision is fine with me.

Your next head scratcher could come later today, tomorrow, or as late as next month. But you can bet it’s coming. The more ready you are to embrace a decision-making protocol you’re comfortable with, the less likely you’ll be tossing and turning at night.