When it comes to better decision-making process and skills, understanding how people think, evaluate and decide is immensely valuable. Your ability to be effective with both making and communicating decisions increases dramatically when you know where someone is in terms of their processing.  That includes recognizing what level they are operating on so you can help them make better decisions.

The framework of the 4 Levels of Decision Making allows leaders – and those who need to influence their clients, colleagues, and teams – to be far more effective, with far greater ease:

Level #1 is Clarity

Are they clear about what they want to discuss?  If they are not clear about the outcome or decision needed, why are we moving forward in the conversation? Too many times, when we have vague notions of what we are trying to accomplish, or we are not really sure what someone is trying to say or do, we let them keep going on as if we understand them.

Getting clarity – and particularly clarity about what really matters – is a critical, first level, fundamental step of your decision-making process.

Level #2 is Focus

Once we have clarity about what is being discussed, the next key piece is about focus – especially ensuring that the focus is on something of key strategic importance.  The question at this level becomes: Is what we are talking about focused on what is most important?   If it is not focused on what is most important to us, to our clients, to our organization, then we should not be dealing with it.

If you are clear that what is being dealt with is focused on what is most important, then you can move to the next level.  If it is not clearly something of great significance and importance, you must first get clarity about that.

Level #3 is Impact

The critical factor at this level of decision-making becomes:  What choices and decisions would have the greatest impact on achieving what is most important?  This is the first level of real leadership decision making – making an impact on what really matters.

This is the level of being able to intelligently define and execute on your priorities, because you know that they will deliver on what really matters.  Making an impact on what is most important is one of the most important responsibilities of leadership and leadership level decision-making.

Level #4 is Leverage

Once you are able to consistently get to making decisions that have impact on what is most important, the ultimate level of leadership is within reach. This is what I call Leverage – creating the environment and the opportunities for others to make an impact.  This is what the best and most successful leaders excel at.

This is called the level of Leverage because you actually have that reach beyond what you could personally do.  That is the capacity for massive impact based upon your setting the stage for others’ being able to produce impact.

So, what you have here are four key levels of leadership decision making.  You start with the clarity of stage 1 and, when done well, you move quickly to the level of focus on what is most important.  When you are clear and focused on what really matters, it makes it a lot easier to move to the level of making an impact on what really matters.

Once you have the kind of clarity and focus that allows you to make an impact, you can thoughtfully start creating opportunities, situations and the environment where other people can also really make an impact.  That is high quality leadership decision making, which is also a major contributor to making your executive communications move your organization forward faster.

To accelerating and elevating your success,