How do you make decisions?

Several attributes that leaders possess allow them to be successful. In this blog post, we will discuss one in particular that separates those who excel and those that cannot move their organization forward over time. What is this quality?  It is the important trait of making decisions.

In a school setting, leaders make thousands of decisions daily. While many are routine and follow the protocols and systems put in place, there are some decisions that are very complex and at times, can be potentially emotional for the school community. The thought process leaders use to make these decisions impact how a school community continues to progress, or not, over time.

As I reflect upon my own experience, there are some decisions that I have made in the past that years later I recognize may not have been the right choice. My intent was to help students and teachers, but as I reflect, there were times that I did not consider the entire picture.  As a result, I want to share with you some helpful considerations that will allow you to make well-informed decisions that best serve your school community.

How fast do you need to make decisions?

School leaders face a multitude of decisions in a day. In most instances, the other individuals or groups want an instant decision. However, no decision needs to be made in that moment. The exception is if it involves school safety. All other decisions can wait and that allows you time to process information and make a well-informed decision.

How do I know what factors to consider when making a decision?

It is best practice to consider several factors when facing a decision such as:

  1. Ask yourself “what is the purpose” of this decision?
  2. Will this support our schools purpose or mission?
  3. How will the top 20% of our teachers feel about this?
  4. Have we visited with students about this potential decision?
  5. Have we tried to get feedback from all stakeholders about the topic?

What types of data should I consider when making this decision?

It is critical to use several criteria when making decisions as that allows you to consider all perspectives. Here are the types of data to consider:

  1. Decision specific data (ex. cost, student achievement, time etc..)
  2. Team input data – involve your team (ex. grade level, leadership team etc.) as they may see potential positives or negatives different from your viewpoint that should be considered.
  3. Ask yourself – “what is best for kids” and how will this decision impact our students? Do you have data that shows how it will support or be negative impact upon the students?

What ways can leaders develop a system so decision-making is more clear-cut

  1. Decision-making is complex, but we can make it more simplified. Leaders must provide a FOCUS for their building, so every decision can be considered does it support or go against this focus.
  2. Make a decision separate from emotional perspectives. As a leader, your decisions at times may make others upset, so take time to step away and think through the process.
  3. Have defined core values that you operate by as a leader. This quote from David Geurin “Be Firm with your Principles, but flexible with your practices” shares how leaders must be flexible and adaptable to situations, but their core values and principles must remain intact. This allows leaders to be consistent on their decision-making.

In closing, here are the most important things to keep in mind. No one is perfect, we all make mistakes and there will be some decisions, which years later, we recognize could have been made different. The most important thing is we must develop a core system of beliefs, be consistent in our thought process and focus on how a decision supports/not supports our students and purpose of the school community.  How we make the decisions and express it to others also is critical, as that is what our school community will remember. While some decisions will not be viewed by others in a positive light, we can always be professional, empathetic and show compassion as we share the result.

I look forward to hearing from you about your thoughts on how you make decisions as a leader.  Comment below or reach out to me at











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A Husband, Father and Principal with a focus on learning, leading and connecting with others.

An educator for 25 years with 14 of those being a building administrator. I have found that the more I learn form others and their experiences it helps me grow and learn as well. I hope you join our journey as we create learning environments for students and staff that create future success.

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