Kathryn Minshew, Founder & CEO of The Muse recently talked about the importance of making the important ‘irreversable’ decisions for her startup company. The Muse is a massively successful resource for people to craft and find fulfilling careers with over 50 million users.
Although It’s not a job board you can find jobs on The Muse. Employers like to use The Muse to attract talent by telling a more authentic and compelling employer story.
I Wish I Would Have Learned to Trust My Instincts Earlier
I wish I would have learned to trust my instincts. I started The Muse when I was 25, seven years ago. Because I was so young and was conscious of my inexperience I sometimes let other people overly influence the decisions that I made because it felt like I was so new to starting a business.
Looking back, my instincts actually served me pretty well. Sometimes I trusted them and it was absolutely the right decision and there were other times I overruled them and went against my better judgment and I regretted it.
As CEO You Bear Ultimate Responsibility for Success or Failure
When you are a leader, particularly when you are the CEO of a startup company, at the end of the day everything that goes wrong or doesn’t work out you bear the ultimate responsibility for success or failure. When something happens that is a failure and you knew better, you overruled your own instincts or you let someone else make a decision that you really felt deep in your gut probably should have gone differently, I think those are the hardest mistakes to live with.
I would rather trust my instincts and make the calls and deal with the results good and bad.
Divide Decisions Into Two Categories
Getting better at making decisions, especially small decisions is something I am absolutely working on right now. As you build a company, especially if you are trying to do something that no one has ever done before, you are solving countless problems and making countless decisions and that can be exhausting.
I’ve tried to get better at dividing decisions into two categories, first, decisions that are reversible. These decisions I try to make quick and often try to delegate. You can get bogged down as a leader in overanalyzing these decisions, which I have definitely been guilty of. I’m working to just insure; how big is this decision, what are the impacts of getting it wrong, can we change our minds? If the answer to those is a green light I try and make it quick and move on.
The other types of decisions are the bigger thornier decisions. It depends; is this a guiding light or principals decision or is this a structural or tactics decision?
A Decision Making Metaphor I’ve Been Thinking About
Here is a metaphor I’ve been thinking of. In the early days of starting a business, you are almost an explorer, so think sort of Louis and Clark, you are charting the wilderness and you have an idea. You have a small team, but ultimately you are deciding where to go. At some point, you find your market fit, your sweet spot and then you start building a town.
You can be an explorer with great instincts with some level of training, or very little training in some instances, but when building a town you may want to actually bring in plumbers, electricians, people that have deep technical expertise. For things like that, I would empower those people, let them make decisions, and really lean into their skill sets because you hired them for a reason.
You Can’t Delegate the Big Picture Direction Decisions
When it comes to principals, the core ethics, the values, the big picture direction questions that’s where you can’t delegate because those are the most weighty and also the ones hardest to undo. People talk a lot about building culture, but changing culture is very hard. I think understanding where decisions fall and how reversible it is is a really important tactic for deciding how to delegate or when you need to just make a decision.