How to Rise to the Decision-Making Challenge Like a Champion


After taking the decision to leave his DJK Würzburg club in smallville Germany, Dirk Nowitzki was chosen in the 1998 NBA draft by the Milwaukee Bucks and immediately traded to the perennial losers Dallas Mavericks.

After a difficult start with his new club in the much bigger league, Nowitzki went on to lead the Dallas Mavericks to 13 NBA Playoffs, including the franchise’s first NBA Finals appearance in 2006 and only championship in 2011.

The highest scoring foreign-born player of all time, the big Bavarian is considered one of the greatest power forwards in basketball history.

What impresses me most about Nowitzki is not so much his amazing achievements but rather his hard work, commitment to winning and desire to do it for the same team.

This is a very rare thing in today’s massive money-driven market.

In July 2014 he took the decision to extend his contract for another 3 years, most likely making him a Maverick for life.

Leaders make decisions all the time. Sometimes tough ones. Leaders are also accountable for their decisions – no one is standing by to take the blame when something turns out less than perfect.

Decision making is a huge part of leadership. In fact, leaders are chosen for their ability to act decisively. Right or wrong, a true leader stands behind her decisions.

Though most of us don’t have to make split decisions on a super-charged basketball court, I’d like to share 3 questions, 3 guidelines, 2 models to help you rise to this leadership challenge.



When faced with making a tough decision it’s important to get clarity on a few things so that you can live with your decision, regardless of the outcomes.

Here are 3 questions to help you find clarity:

  1. Do the people affected know why the decision is being made; do they understand the rationale and logic behind it?
  1. Is the decision aligned with your values?
  1. Are you prepared to live with the consequences if things don’t turn out like you planned?


It’s equally as important that the information on which you base your decision is as accurate and thorough as possible.

“Where is the info coming from? Are the facts sound? Are the key players well-enough informed?”

Here are 3 guidelines to ensure you get the best information in the given timeframe:

  1. Over-Communicate:  Give and demand clear and basic communication to reduce ambiguity and increase transparency.
  1. Vet the Source:  Information is only as good as the source so make sure it’s a reliable one/s.
  1. Check the Facts:  Collect as many facts as you can and check them for accuracy (in given time frame).

Do you remember this bold example of Joschka Fischer taking the decision not to act due to insufficient information at the 2003 International Security Conference?



When time is of the essence, and it usually is, you must be able to prioritize effectively.

Here are 2 highly effective and time-tested models that have helped thousands of leaders for decades:

1.  The Eisenhower Matrix

To help you distinguish between what’s important and what’s urgent, get to know the classic Eisenhower Matrix named after the US President who was famous for his timely decision-making ability.

This simple model allows you to break down your tasks before deciding which to tackle first. The 4 boxes in the Matrix helps with the prioritization.

Keep in mind that it’s important to make the time to deal with things that are important, but not urgent. Also, it’s a good idea to deal with important tasks before they become urgent.

2. The Rubber Band Model

TheRubberBandModelTo help you deal with the dilemma of choosing between more than 1 good option, ask yourself:

What’s holding me? What’s pulling me?

On first sight this may look like a variation on the classic pro’s vs. con’s method. However, by focusing on two attractive alternatives it’s a more positive and therefore powerful experience.

Illustration from The Decision Book by M. Krogerus & R. Tschäppeler



As the confidence and conviction to stand behind your decisions is just as important as the ability to act decisively, it pays to take the time to make sure your decisions are sound.

So remember, the next time you’re faced with a tough decision…

– Make sure the reasons for the decision are understood by all key players (incl. you!).

– Check the available information to make the best decision in the timeframe given.

– Decide what’s important, what’s urgent and where your positive energy is the strongest if pulled in two directions.

If you think a sparring partner could help you deal effectively with a critical situation at work, inquire about my coaching support here.

What guidelines and models help you in your decision-making? Which people have inspired you? Please share your comments below.

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