One of the areas that I am blessed is with is the ability of not getting lost when I am in a new town. This is not something that I can explain but for some reason I have a natural instinct for direction. It is like an inner sense for which way is North and what roads might lead in what direction.

Now to be honest with you, I also spend a lot of time just looking at maps. I have always enjoyed seeing how cities are planned out, and how roads are connected. One example is when you look at a map of Washington D.C. you will notice that all of the roads lead to the Capital because it is the dividing center for the four sections of the city.

I can’t tell you which came first, the natural instinct for direction or the love of maps, however I know that the two go hand in hand when I am driving in a new area. It just helps when I am aware of the lay of the land and also my surroundings.

I have found that this same type of instinct is needed when it comes to being a leader and choosing which direction the team should go. It would be nice to have some type of map that helps us make the right decision but when it comes to leadership, this map is not always available. It is during those times that we as leaders must rely on our “natural” instinct to help us in the decision making process.

I thought that I would share a few methods that I use when it comes to choosing the right direction. It boils down to four somewhat simple steps. They are steps that sound a lot like common sense however sometimes it is easy to forget to use them.

First, be very aware of the surroundings. This includes your team, the situation, and also the risk that is involved with the decision. This is another way of saying that as a leader you need to be well informed. Making a decision when you are uninformed might cause your team unnecessary stress and a waste of valued time.

Second, not making a decision is in itself a decision. Imagine yourself on a journey across the country when you come to a crossroad. Imagine that you need to choose which direction to go so you just stay there, not making any decision at all. This will make sure that you do not choose the wrong direction, however you will also not be any closer to the goal of your journey. Just sitting in your car at a stop sign avoiding making any movement at all will only cause a traffic jam. Remember that no decision is a decision.

Third, along with our surroundings (team, situation, and risks) you also have a very valuable tool called experience. As you are faced with decisions, remember to use other leadership positions, books that you have read and those times you have been a team member. There is a good possibility that you have been down a particular road before.

Lastly, believe in everyone that is on your team. This includes you. Leaders must understand that they are part of the team as well. Trust in your instincts and also the instincts of your team. Being a leader begins with establishing a quality team, one built on trust and character. If you have a quality team that you can depend on, trust in the team’s instincts.

This week’s experiment: How are you making decisions? Is this an area that you need more practice with? Which of the four steps are you having the most trouble with?