Making good decisions is critical to being successful in your career. It involves three key components: teamwork, the ability to deal with conflict and trusting your instincts.
I often cite an old rabbinical tale on the subject of teamwork. The Lord takes a rabbi to see hell. It is a room filled with people sitting around a large pot of stew. They all are starving. Each holds a spoon that is long enough to reach the pot, but too long to reach the mouth. The Lord then takes the rabbi to see heaven. It is a room that is identical to the first, except that everyone looks happy and well-nourished. The rabbi is puzzled and asks the Lord why everyone is happy in heaven and miserable in hell when everything looks the same. The Lord explains that in heaven, the people have learned to feed each other.
Teamwork yields results in all your work relationships—with supervisors, peers and direct reports. A true leader can create an environment where politics have little or no place and where team players are rewarded because of their cooperation and support of others.
To make the best decisions, you want open and candid input, many different perspectives, and the knowledge and expertise of the entire group. To make good decisions, you must be able to manage conflict, not avoid it. This does not have to be done in an acrimonious way. Conflict resolution leads to better decisions. For instance, if two parts of the company are vying for scarce resources, avoiding the conflict will not result in the most beneficial allocation of those resources. All it will ensure is that whoever has political clout is likely to get the resources. If the conflict is discussed openly, the resolution is more likely to benefit the entire company.
Resolving conflicts is not inconsistent with being a team player. If anything, it enables the team to function in a coherent fashion and often leads to a creative, win-win solution.
Finally, in making decisions, trust your gut. You will not always have every fact you need to make a decision, and some decisions involve so much ambiguity that you have to make your decision based on unknowns. This is when your intuition is invaluable. Build the best team you can; facilitate conflict resolution; and be confident enough to deal with ambiguity.