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3 Secrets to Making Great Decisions

Key questions to ask before taking action.

I worked with a vice-president of a major corporation who was a great decision maker.

"You make such good decisions. What's your secret?" I asked.

"First, I decide if I have a choice," he told me. "If not, I don't waste my time deciding."

That advice has often saved me from mulling over a fact of life that can't be changed. When I genuinely have a choice in a difficult leadership decision, I rely on ten helpful questions.

1. What are my options?

J.C. Cain, a distinguished doctor of Mayo Clinic, once told me, "A great diagnostician knows the most symptoms. Any practicing doctor can diagnose the common illnesses. At Mayo, we specialize in knowing and thus seeing what's not obvious." Similarly, those who know the most options see what's not obvious and make a better decision.

Robert McNamara, former president of Ford Motor Company, once asked an executive who brought him a decision, "What did you decide not to do?" He wanted to know that the person had thought of more than one way.

The secret in ...

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