The fourth item from the Leadership Principles/Skills Outline was:
Ability to make decisions…sometimes on short notice…sometimes with limited information
This topic can be applied to any part of your life, but I am going to focus on the necessity for an effective leader to be both willing and able to make decisions, especially on short notice, with limited information, and most-certainly under some sort of pressure. There isn’t a day that goes by where everyone isn’t faced with making some sort of decision. From the what to eat for breakfast to whether or not to proceed with a merger between two corporations, there is a constant flow of opportunities to make decisions. Obviously, some decisions have a much greater impact than others, but there are many times when people do not understand that failing to make the correct decision (or not making a decision at all!) on a bunch of seemingly small and insignificant topics can eventually build up and cause serious problems. To compound the issue, the failure to not make any decision will certainly have a profound negative impact…one that may cause irreconcilable problems.
Why is decision making so important to me? Read this:
I know someone who is a micro-manager and an absolute control-freak who lacks the ability to make sound decisions in a timely manner (sorry to be so harsh…it’s the truth!). This individual is responsible for a considerable number of employees all of whom are currently suffering because of his incredible inability to effectively lead.
Hopefully, you will forgive my harsh words towards this person. I am not perfect either!
Regardless of your place in society, you must focus on the decisions that are knocking at your door and take the time to tend to them with your very best effort. Do not let others suffer because of your fear of making the wrong decision. Do not expect to have every single piece of information in your hands before choosing which way to go. You will make mistakes, you are not perfect. In fact, you are a flawed human being like the rest of society (all of us are flawed in some way!). However, if your heart is in the right place and you are very sincere in your efforts, you will make the correct decision the majority of the time. The old saying that ‘hindsight is 20/20’ is very true; you should always use your successes and failures as well as the successes and failures of others to help you make the correct decisions.
Next time you are prompted with an opportunity to make a decision do not shy away from it; take a firm hold of the situation, consider your options, think through it, and courageously make your choice. Effective leadership does not require you to constantly make perfect 100% correct decisions, but it does require you to have the correct core values (see my post on integrity) deeply implanted into your heart and soul. When properly equipped, your conscience will play a huge factor in the decision making process because it will steer you away from making selfish, inward decisions that are not in the best interests of all of whom your decision will effect. In the words of Spock from Star Trek – The Wrath of Khan:
“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one.” -Spock
In the realm of decision making, that is perfect advice that works the majority of the time.
I challenge you to go forth and strive to make decisions while utilizing every bit of courage, experience, compassion, common-sense, and integrity that you can squeeze out.
Prepare to make mistakes; make sure you learn from them.
Prepare yourself to act; do not stand by and let things fall apart around you because of your inability to act.
Do what you know is right!