I’ve heard the argument that it’s harder to make decisions nowadays because of the complexity of the world, the accelerating pace at which change occurs and the inordinate amount of information to distill.
If you’re a great leader you:
- Have a very clear vision of where you are leading your organization
- Have clearly defined strategies, each of which is directly tied to the vision
- Evaluate options based on whether they serve your organization as part of your strategies, or whether they perhaps shed light on new strategies that can be leveraged to advance toward your vision
- Are never afraid to ask for additional information when it’s needed
- Conscientiously evaluate risk involved in the decision, and the risk tolerance of your stakeholders
- Seek insight and input from your leadership team and your trusted advisors
And then you decide. In the words of the Greek goddess Nike, you “just do it.” (She did say that, right?)
It’s no coincidence that Nike, as the goddess of strength, speed and victory was thought to be best friends with Athena, goddess of wisdom and also of strategy when it came to the art of war. A great leader portrays the best of Nike and Athena when they:
- Make a strategic decision
- Commit to the decision
- Communicate the decision
- Champion the decision
- Hold others accountable to executing according to the decision
We’ve all been in organizations when the leader has been unable to make a decision, unable to communicate next steps for an organization or to commit to a path. Often times these leaders think they have the best interest of their organization at heart: they “don’t want to make a “rash” decision” or they are “trying to get as many members of their teams ‘on board’ as possible” with one direction or another before deciding.
Despite their best intent I think delaying a decision past its “tipping point” – the point at which it becomes clear a “threshold” has been reached in regard to timeliness – is damaging to an organization.
- The leader appears weak – that’s just all there is to it
- Team members begin to silently question the leader’s ability and/or the leader’s commitment to the vision
- Team members begin to question the leader’s ability vocally amongst themselves
- A sense of uncertainty sets in, which if not quelled can lead to organizational fear
- If the decision becomes severely delayed, “myths” start to pop up in the organization about what the end result will be
- And ultimately, no matter the decision, the internal impact of the lack of decision – for however long it lasted – is hard to counteract because of the preceding points
If you’re a leader you must excel at the art of deciding. Indecision and an attempt to appeal to everyone signal lack of vision and weakness. Period.
Or am I wrong? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments…
Photo is Decisions by Steve Webel.