"We're getting more leads in the top of the funnel, but fewer of them are closing than ever. Everything seems to be in stasis. Nobody is making any decisions!"

This is an approximation of a range of similar comments I've heard many times from agency leaders in recent weeks and months. Whether it's clients or anyone else, decisions seem to have ground to a halt.

It's understandable, though — there's such a thing as 'decision fatigue'. Most of the time in daily life we're able to do most things on autopilot, saving our decision-making energy (and it is energy intensive) for the important stuff.

But, after the last 18 months of having to use our decision-making energy on tiny daily things like "Should I leave this supermarket aisle, because that guy is coughing a lot with no mask?", we're all exhausted. We're decisioned out, on top of being tired.

So what can we do as leaders?

First we need to look for that fatigue in ourselves. What decisions are we sliding to the back-burner because our brain can't face another big think? As leaders we drive our teams nuts when we do this (almost as much as when we shoot from the hip!) So take the time to catch up on getting decisions made. You may want to start keeping a decision journal too, so you can review the quality of your decisions later, and learn from them in order to make your decision-making more effective.

Consider as well how you can make your life simpler to remove lots of the everyday decisions. As an extreme example of this a friend of mine, while he was building his very well-known business, bought a job lot of clothes that were all the same (and all black) so he didn't have to decide what to wear every day before going to work, and could save his thinking for the big decisions that awaited him.

Secondly we need to spot this in our team and help remove extra decision overhead from people, or put in place support (clear processes, decision workflows, or even decision 'buddies' as sounding boards perhaps?). Make life simpler for a while.

But thirdly, when we want decisions from others we need to make it really easy for them. Set it out briefly and really really clearly. Options are normally good, but right now they add to fatigue and will slow things down. If you want an answer quick, make it a simple choice. Help the other person picture the process and the outcome, so they don't have to spend too much energy imagining it. Use creativity to paint brilliant pictures in their mind that they just want to say yes to. Pitching your process is more important than usual, because they just want to know you have a plan and they can rely on you.

Have a great week, and go easy on yourself when it comes to decisions!

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Last week we recorded some episodes of our new podcast, and the first one is already published. Listen and subscribe in your favourite podcast player. We talk to Sue Keogh, of marketing agency Sookio, about her leadership style and how it has evolved. We cover how she led her business through crises, and how she tries to look ahead and be proactive as a leader.


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