5 Steps to Speed Up Decision Making

This article outlines 5 actionable steps that will help you make more decisions faster and strengthen your team in the process.  We think effective delegation of decision making can help.


Why leaders care about increasing their decision making speed?

In a recent article, I wrote how making faster decisions is something we must improve for our organization to thrive. Today’s leader needs more time to think, strategize, and connect with their teams.

Want to free up 2 hours every workday?

Decisions should be made by those closest to the work.  That’s one of the main premises outlined in the book Team of Teams

Start today by refusing to make the same decisions over and over again.   The best leaders push 80% of decision making to lower levels in the organization.  That leaves 20%.   These are the ones they get paid to make. 

When a leader is making all the decisions they are likely not focused on the most important.


Step 1:  Teach others how to make 80% of the decisions

Begin teaching others to make 80% of the decisions.   It begins with building a new habit.  Here’s how you do it.

    1. Make a decision
    2. Teach trusted team members how you arrived at making the decision
    3. Empower them to make the decision next time
    4. Provide support and encouragement regardless of outcome

Examples of decisions to delegate:

  • You receive an e-mail asking which day would be best to hold a team meeting to discuss x,y,z.   
  • What is the process for moving a shipment from here to there?
  • What regulations are we supposed to follow when doing X?

Initially, you will be involved in these types of decisions.  It doesn’t have to stay that way. Teach appropriate team members how to evaluate and determine the right path forward.   

The time spent today teaching others to make better decisions will compound your future leader capacity

Step 2:  Document your framework for making decisions

One of the ways the best leaders build trust is through consistency.

Consistency in decision making provides opportunities for followers to learn your ways.  If you desire to become more consistent in this area, I encourage you to consider following these steps as you build your framework.  

    1. Write down your core values (3-7)
    2. Document your guiding principles (1-5)
    3. Make decisions consistent with your values and principles
    4. When making a new or complex decision, document the process of how you arrived there for next time
    5. Simplify and begin teaching others

Step 3:  Expand the process to your team

Call a team meeting to discuss making faster decisions.  Use the agenda outlined below as a guideline. 

Share a story:  Tell where slow decision making caused a problem and what happened.

Inquire:  If they relate to your story, ask if they have experienced the problem and what it was like for them.

Act:  Invite them to help you move towards quicker decision making.  Empower them to make more decisions as you teach them your way of thinking.  Ask for their help in identifying the types of decisions they should be making that you haven’t thought about.

Sharing your approach

    • Walk through how you make a decision (start with decisions the team has  come to you in the past)
    • Illustrate the guiding principles you use
    • Let them ask questions
    • Share another example
    • Now empower them to make those types of decisions going forward

Step 4:  Introduce accountability

Ask them to track the decisions they are making using the principles.  Then, at the end of a period of time (say 3 weeks) come back together and share stories, adjust, and go again.

Step 5:  Report results

As you experience the benefits of more time to allocate to the important, share your results of your experiment with your leadership team.  Objective data and team testimonials convince even the most skeptical.


As a leader, you can’t purchase more time for your work day.  You can introduce behaviors that can free up your time for other priorities while strengthening your teams’ decision making capabilities.   

Shepherding: The art of becoming the leader others want to follow

From the Shepherd’s Library

I think this book could be a tremendous help to you if you are looking to better leverage your guiding principals when making decisions.

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