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Navigating Tough Decisions


Navigating Tough Decisions

Sherif El-Henaoui shares an article on decision-making, why we often make the wrong choice, and why we think it’s the right one. 

Often managers mix up tough decision with right ones by thinking them taking a tough decision that this is the right thing to do.

Let’s me explain what I mean with an example: If I can’t pay the expenses of my house, I may think that I could decide disconnecting the electricity from my house to save money. This is a tough decision because it impacts the quality of my life. Was this the right one? Definitely not because without electricity in my house I can’t rent some room on airbnb, I can’t do savings on electricity, I can’t cook, so I have to eat outside which costs more, etc. – this is what is often referred a shot in the own knee.

So what? Well what I saw in many corporations that executives think that taking tough decisions make them automatically good ones. The sad news is that by the time one can find out if that was the case these executives will have moved on. 

A famous analogy I have is in football business, often coaches of famous teams are fired when the results are bad for few consecutive weeks. Statistically these changes of coaches bring no better results, but of course the responsible manager thinks that he (most of the time it is a he) is smarter than the average and by changing the coach the results will get better. In football it is easy to measure and hence it says that often a decision of not taking a so-called tough decision-which also is tough as everybody is expecting something tough- conveys a message of stability to the team or stakeholders.

In summary I am not saying don’t take tough decisions, what I request managers not to take them for the sake of demonstrating that they are the powerful tribe. When you know you have a tough decision ahead of you, consult your team and make sure you communicate the reasoning of the decision (beyond saying the situation is difficult, so we have to take a tough decision). This will make people accept them and take the consequences of these tough decisions.


Key points include:

  • Ego-based decisions
  • Stability-based decisions
  • Knee-jerk reactions


Read the full article, Tough Decisions are not always right, on Linkedin.