Imagine stopping at the grocery store to pick up food for dinner after a long day at work. You have a list but still you find yourself paralyzed, staring at the jars of pasta sauce, unable to decide which size or flavor to buy. You ask the nearby sales clerk for his opinion instead. This is called decision fatigue, a relatively new phenomenon that we all experience, especially business leaders.
Leadership training is supposed to prepare managers to make all kinds of decisions, but business leaders often find themselves in demanding situations. Entrepreneurs inundated with e-mails asking them to weigh in on every detail as they build their start-up. Executives unable to walk down the hall without being bombarded by questions that only they can answer.
Curiously, unlike physical fatigue that you can actually feel in your body, many experience the mental effects of making too many decisions without even knowing it.* Though it’s not surprising that running a business can be stressful, the impact of decision fatigue does not solely affect what’s for dinner—it can impact the bottom line as well.
As decision fatigue sets in, leaders tend to take shortcuts that lead to poor outcomes, or can avoid making a decision altogether. While not deciding can ease the short-term burden, it can have long-term consequences. Decision fatigue can also leave individuals vulnerable in areas and at times they otherwise would not be, and can result in impulsive and reckless behavior*—neither of which are valuable qualities of a leader.
Here are five easy ways to help prevent decision fatigue:
Organizations are demanding authentic business leaders who are prepared to address the ever-evolving challenges of a complex world. Those with effective leadership skills are better positioned to sort out the noise from the important issues that need answers. One way to develop leadership skills is to earn a master’s degree in leadership. Walden University’s MS in Leadership program can help prepare leaders to create innovative solutions to novel problems and challenges, as well as deploy effective strategies to facilitate change and manage conflict—easing the burden of making many decisions.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering an MS in Leadership degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.
*J. Tierney, Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue?, The New York Times Magazine, on the internet at www.nytimes.com/2011/08/21/magazine/do-you-suffer-from-decision-fatigue.html.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.