Why is it important to make decisions promptly?
School leaders (and teachers) are required to make countless decisions on their feet, and although many of their actions are not life-threatening, the difficulty mainly lies in the impact each decision has on others and the speed in which these decisions are required to be made.
What impact do your decisions have?
There are not many jobs in the world where every decision you make has at least 30 other people sitting in front of you from the moment you begin your day-job to the second you leave.
Teaching is complex. It is exhilarating, but most of all, it is relentless. The same can be said for those working in school leadership – the impact of each decision is far beyond 30 pupils. Headteachers are making daily decisions about what and what not to do, in schools and colleges which can exceed 3,000 pupils.
So, how do we know if we are making the right decisions and how do we evaluate their impact?
“I’ll go and find out and come back to you …”
In school, school leaders are often forced to make decisions based on limited information. The best advice I can offer here is, where the situation allows, respond with: “I don’t know yet, let me go and find out and I will come back to you with an answer.” And make sure you do! The second part of this situation is that the person who is required to respond often fails because school life is incredibly busy … this leads to a lack of credibility.
Make a decision early …
At the beginning of a meeting, new initiative or perhaps training day, when finer details will be clarified later on, school leaders need to be bold in their decision-making, because “these early decisions have the most far-reaching consequences.” Decisions can be deferred because someone may have doubts about which action to take.
Not making a decision is a decision in itself.
If you find yourself not making a decision in response to another colleagues query, make sure that you communicate this. Delaying a decision will lead to uncertainty, therefore, even if you want to delay the decision, again, make sure you communicate this early.
In The Decision Book, this model, shared by “the Danish organisation theorists Kristian Kreiner and Soren Christensen encourage us to be courageous, and make decisions based on minimal information”.