All of us in positions of authority and responsibility are faced with the requirement of making decisions on a regular basis. Some of these decisions are clear based on our values, purpose, and sufficient information. Other decisions are not clear. A leader’s ability to ask questions, gather information, evaluate options, filter through values, align with purpose, and make a decision when things are not clear provides the organization with the ability to keep moving forward. No one will make the best/right decision every time. Mistakes will be made. Every wrong decision is an opportunity to learn for future decisions. In some cases, the leader can make an adjustment and correct or modify the decision to improve the situation.
Indecisiveness and lack of willingness to act may be the worst choice for a leader. When the leader freezes due to uncertainty and doesn’t make a decision, the organization is also frozen. Very seldom do problems, issues, or situations resolve themselves. Typically, things get worse when decisions aren’t made. Problems often get worse. Engagement levels decline. Unresolved issues expand. People lose trust, and leaders lose credibility.
A prime example of the negative consequences is what our country is currently experiencing along our southern border. Regardless of your political position on immigration, the humanitarian crisis in El Paso, and other cities along the border should be getting everyone’s attention. The lack of direction and decision making from the Federal Government is creating a huge issue impacting so many lives. The problem continues to get worse daily as leaders at our federal level cannot come to a decision on what to do. We can also point to the federal budgetary process as another example of the problems created by failing to make a decision. Continuing to push forward with extensions on spending levels (Continuing Resolution) with no budgetary plan or attempt to balance spending with revenues is another clear example of leader’s failure to make decisions and act.
We can point to more examples of governmental inaction, but the propensity to not make tough decisions can impact any organization as well as any leader. Tough decisions require difficult discussions and a willingness to listen to other’s opinions as leadership teams seek to move forward. Complete agreement may not always be possible, but an agreed upon set of core values and shared purpose can be the foundational aspects of gaining alignment in many cases. Leadership teams that have that foundation can refer to those core principles to evaluate options. Even when that foundation does not exist, leaders still need to do the hard work and get to a decision point as quickly as possible. We never want to rush and make a regretful decision, but we also don’t want to delay and cripple the organization. Be quick but don’t rush!
People deserve good leadership. Leaders must make timely decisions. Ask questions, engage people in discussion, and gather as much information as you can quickly. Filter options through your values and purpose. Debate, discuss, and do the hard work, but make a decision. As you move into 2023, be a decisive leader and be a leader worthy of following.
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