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Leading with Confidence: A Strategic Guide to Making Tough Decisions

by Julie Miles / April 12, 2023

As a leader, it is expected that making tough decisions will be a part of the job. HR managers and CEOs generally have the added challenge of making these decisions as the final decisions maker. It is a modest, yet sometimes daunting, distinction. Others at different levels of an organization may be able to discuss and collaborate on decisions before they are made. However, when it comes to the highest level of leadership within a company or organization, the leader must take full responsibility for their decisions, as they have the final say.

Experienced leaders understand that, while they are often right in their decisions, there may be times when mistakes will happen. Even with the potential for mistakes, however, it is better to make a decision than to make no decision at all. Poor decisions and not making any decisions at all can be attributed to several factors. Some leaders might not seek out or consider the right input before making a decision, lack confidence in their ability to make a call, or become overwhelmed by input related to the decision.

When there are numerous moving parts, viewpoints to take into account, and people to be heard, it can sometimes be exhausting to piece everything together and understand how each dot makes a connection to the other. Thankfully, making decisions can be less difficult when you implement the right techniques, like the 3Cs for tough decisions.

What Are the 3C’s for Tough Decisions? 

To be an effective leader, you must take these factors into account:


You must have clarity in all your decision-making so you can not only make the best decisions but make them quickly. The clarity of objectives is about knowing exactly what goals you want to accomplish and the clarity of perspective is about identifying the right context for whatever tough decision you plan to make.

If there is a lack of clarity in communication when making decisions within a team, team members may form different assumptions about the decision, which can lead to disagreements or conflicts. Clear communication and stating the decision explicitly can prevent misunderstandings and ensure everyone is on the same page.


Once you have clarity on the decision that needs to be made, you will need to provide context. The root cause of many team disagreements is the lack of knowledge about how the decision was reached.

Providing context helps to create a clear image of a situation. Everyone needs to know what information matters, why it matters, where the information comes from, and how all the dots connect. Sometimes team members need to be given a broader perspective of where the organization is headed beyond the current focus.

Team members that interact with customers on a day-to-day basis will be able to provide valuable insights from their point of view. However, team members look to their leaders to deliver context that is easy to understand so that everyone can utilize it. 

If, as a leader, you are unable to communicate the context surrounding a decision to your team, you may be viewed as a leader who does not quite understand how the decision impacts everyone involved. However, giving your team clear context will help everyone understand the reasoning behind the decision and create a sense of purpose or justification for it.


As the leader, your team looks to you to make the choice, especially when it’s a tough choice. Sometimes (maybe more than you may like), questions will be asked about the choice you made. What if you are placed in a situation where someone questioned the decision you made as a leader? Would you be able to explain why you made that choice and how it benefits the team?

Decisions, Decisions: Tips for Making Tough Calls

When faced with tough decisions, think beyond the “now” and consider how the decision will affect the organization in the future. This involves analyzing the potential outcomes of each option, both in the short-term and long-term, and choosing the option that will have the most positive impact. To help you navigate these situations, consider these tips:

Acquire Key Data Points: Collecting relevant information is necessary if you want to make informed decisions. This involves researching the situation, talking to experts, and gathering input from team members.

Have Options A, B, and C: Don’t just choose the first option that comes to mind. Exploring multiple alternatives helps you cover all of your bases.

Focus on Key Areas: Prioritize potential decisions based on what’s most important. Think about factors such as time, cost, or effect on team members.

Choose and Advance: After gathering information, considering options, and seeking perspectives, it’s time to make a decision. Be confident in the choice you make, but don’t shy away from making adjustments if necessary.

Be Prepared For What Happens: Don’t be caught off guard by the outcomes of tough decisions. Be accountable for them, positive or negative.

Making Tough Calls: Examples of Tough Decisions

Rebranding the organization: Deciding to change the brand identity, logo, or tagline can be a tough decision for leaders, especially because it may affect customer loyalty and perception. 

Entering new markets: Deciding to expand a company’s operations into new geographic regions or markets can be challenging, as it may require extensive research and investment. 

Shifting the organization’s focus: Deciding to change the organization’s focus to a new product or service line can be tough because it may require major changes to current processes and resources. 

Outsourcing: Deciding to outsource certain business functions, such as customer service or manufacturing, can be a tough decision for leaders because it may impact internal operations and culture. 

Reducing product lines: Deciding to discontinue certain product lines or services can be a challenging decision for leaders due to the potential impact it can have on customer loyalty and revenue streams. 

Investing in sustainability: Deciding to invest in sustainable practices or products can also be a tough decision because it will often require investments and changes to existing processes. 

Entering a partnership: Going into a partnership or joint venture with another company is another tough decision for leaders, as it may have legal, financial, and cultural implications.

Reducing Staff: Reducing staff due to financial or organizational reasons is a difficult decision that leaders may have to make.

Final Thoughts

As a leader, you must embrace tough decisions because they can define your character. Avoiding them may hinder your growth and success. By having an understanding of what makes a decision tough, and by utilizing strategies to simplify the decision-making process, as well as following tips to make informed choices, you can take on the toughest decisions with confidence.

To leave room for navigating tough decision-making, efficient employee management is crucial. At Platinum Group, we offer a comprehensive HCM solution through our isolved platform to help your business or organization manage its payroll, benefits compliance, time and attendance tracking, and other HR functions more efficiently and without redundancies.

Let us help you pave the way to platinum-level success. Explore our HCM platform, isolved, with a self-guided tour here.

Tags: Employee Leadership Business Growth Asheville HCM

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Julie Miles

Julie Miles

Julie’s passion is to act as a liaison between the Platinum team, their wonderful clients, and the community, striving to tell their stories and make connections.