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How Leaders At Google, BuzzFeed, And More Make Decisions

Source | FastCompany : By Lydia Dishman

Good decision making is a critical skill at any stage of a career. But it’s not easy to master. Studies have shown that it’s a complex process that involves evaluating both cognitive and emotional responses to figure out the right way to go. Experts believe the best decision making happens somewhere between research and careful thought and trust in the gut.

There’s also a bit of secret sauce, as Dave Girouard, CEO of personal finance startup Upstart, shared with us in a previous article: “All business activity really comes down to two simple things: making decisions and executing on decisions. Your success depends on your ability to develop speed as a habit in both.”

How does decision making happen at the most successful companies? With a leader who drives the process efficiently and effectively. Looking over the list of the 50 highest rated CEOs, for instance, shows that not only do these good leaders share a very clear vision for their company, they can also motivate their workforces by communicating how all employees play a pivotal role in reaching company goals, that is, by making good decisions.

Fast Company took a look at the decision-making process of a few well-known CEOs to tease out some of their best practices. Here’s what we found:

Larry Page And Sergey Brin, Founders Of Google

Girouard previously extolled the virtue of speed in decision making. He noted that the first step to greasing the wheels of the decision-making progress is to begin by calculating the time and effort each decision is worth, who needs to have input, and when you’ll arrive at an answer.

It’s something Girouard observed in action when he worked with Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Google. He explained:

In my many years at Google, I saw Eric Schmidt use this approach to decision-making on a regular basis—probably without even thinking about it. Because founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were (and are) very strong-minded leaders involved in every major decision, Eric knew he couldn’t make huge unilateral choices. This could have stalled a lot of things, but Eric made sure that decisions were made on a specific timeframe—a realistic one—but a firm one. He made this a habit for himself and it made a world of difference for Google.

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