decision making cogs

As 2019 comes to a close, business leaders are thinking ahead to the decisions they’ll need to make in the new year.

By Gene Hammett: Speaker, growth strategist, and host of the podcast @genehammett on twitter.

Leaders are forced to make tough decisions every single day. While every choice matters, it’s the most difficult decisions that separate great leaders from the rest. And as 2019 comes to a close, the early decisions of 2020 loom large. 

In today’s business world, growth is the name of the game. With more companies than ever exploding in growth overnight, business leaders are forced to make critical decisions more often and with less time to prepare. I’ve coached many business leaders in high-growth positions before, and their success can come down to just a handful of make-or-break decisions. In those situations, it pays to be prepared.

If you want to be fully equipped for whatever your next leadership moment might be, hit the books now. Here are a few I recommend: 

1. Stories That Stick: How Storytelling Can Captivate Customers, Influence Audiences, and Transform Your Business by Kindra Hall (HarperCollins Leadership, 2019).

People respond to stories, so your business needs one that sticks. Far too often, businesses develop stories for the sake of telling stories, without taking into account things like company messaging and customer base. A Wall Street Journal bestseller, Stories That Stick is a guide to writing the right stories for your business. Hall says, “Leaders are going to be more successful in decision making when employees have trust. Being able to tell stories that build trust will align the team to future critical decisions.” As any “been there, done that” leader could tell you, story-telling is a gift in turbulent times.

2. The Aspiring Solopreneur: Your Business Start-Up Bible (Cherokee Street Publishing, 2019) by Kris Kluver

You don’t have to go it alone to learn from The Aspiring Solopreneur — the principles that make great solopreneurs make great company leaders as well. Kluver has taken many of the key lessons from his three decades as an entrepreneur and put them in this book. This makes it a valuable read for anyone looking for insights on dealing with some of the toughest choices businesspeople can face, from hiring to strategy. 

3. Adaptive: Scaling Empathy and Trust to Create Workplace Nirvana (Lioncrest, 2019) by Christopher Creel

Some decisions are best made with others, and Adaptive lays out an organizational model specially tailored to make that kind of collaboration possible. Creel shows that the classical structure of businesses is no longer functional. He demonstrates how removing hierarchies can make your company operate more effectively and efficiently in the long run. By restructuring the business itself, you can make sure you’re never tackling a problem completely alone. 

4. Rock the Recession: How Successful Leaders Prepare for, Thrive During, and Create Wealth After Downturns (Rock Publishing, 2019) by Jonathan Slain and Paul Belair

As the global economy girds itself against a looming recession, your business should do the same. Rock the Recession outlines the counterintuitive ways you can keep your company afloat during an economic downturn while unearthing new opportunities. When the viability of your business is on the line, you want to make the right choice at every turn. I especially appreciated the glimpses into businesses that had thrived in less-than-ideal circumstances, giving readers examples to build on.

5. Manipulated: The 12 Deadly Lies of Network Marketing (Manipulated Books, 2019) by Mark Davenport

We often ignore marketing materials that seem dubious or untrustworthy, but Davenport has thoroughly investigated how these shady operations harm those who are lured in. In Manipulated, he explores the different ways scammers and multilevel marketers trick, deceive and coerce people into doing things that will harm them down the line. By being aware of the psychological factors that can lead you to make wrong decisions, you can use the insights from this book to keep a clear head during tough moments. 

6. Unstoppable: 4 Steps to Transform Your Life (Lioncrest Publishing, 2019) by David Hauser

While most of the other entries on this list focus on business, Unstoppable addresses some more personal concerns. Hauser’s new book is an overview of the ways that numerous different factors — sleep, diet, exercise, mindfulness and more — can impact your overall health. If you want to be as successful as possible in your professional life, you need to make sure your well-being is maximized first. To make the right decisions for your business, you have to make the right decisions for yourself. This is a book I’ll recommend to the entrepreneurs I work with who have a tendency to burn the candle at both ends, not realizing how that cuts into their other efforts.

There’s no how-to guide for every decision you’ll have to make. By reading widely, however, you can develop a strong decision-making philosophy to carry you through some of your most difficult choices. Start gathering other perspectives today — your next big decision may even crop up before the new year starts.


The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of

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