The down side of Options
Frequently leaders create options. Problem solving is about options. Brainstorming sessions generate options. We love life when it presents options. On the other hand, we feel trapped when we don’t have options.
Never the less, too many options paralyze. For example, every salesperson knows customers can’t choose if too many options are present. Customers choose best in an either/or situation.
Options also drain enthusiasm and commitment. You’re never 100% committed to plan A when plan B sits in the wings. Perhaps engagement and marriage best illustrate this idea. When couples get engaged they eliminate options. They chose one. There’s no enthusiasm and commitment if they keep plan B open. It’s unfulfilling to enter marriage filled with thoughts about others you might have married.
Making a decision eliminates options. That’s one reason decision making can be difficult. However, you can’t move forward while focusing on an option that might have been.
Frequently, organizational and personal success depend on your ability to eliminate all the options you’ve created except one. In this case, keeping all your options opened paralyzes progress and reinforces the status quo.
Triumphant forward movement requires turning your back on all options except one and pursuing that option with gusto.
What other “O’s” can you offer leaders?
When should we keep our options opened?
You’ve just read the “O” installment of the series, “Alphabet for Leaders.”
Successful people take decisions, unsuccessful people create options.So, automatically one decision eliminates many options. But having only options and not decisions increase options.
And this is reasons, Successful people talk about actions taken and unsuccessful people talk about options available with them.
The O of leadership is to open up. Leader has to open up for people, options, and service. I agree that too many options paralyze your decisions. Leaders should grab opportunities and omit unnecessary options.
Some opportunities and obstacles are important enough that the best path forward is to postpone decisions and explore options. Unimportant decisions? Make ’em and move on. But the big ones? Take the time to diverge – generate options, explore what-ifs, let multiple voices be heard – then when the time is ripe, converge to a single point. Forced decisions are sub-optimal ones.
Steve Jobs talks about many of his successes coming from the ability to say “no” to great options.
For smart people there are frequently a variety of good options, no shortage of directions we can go that might lead to positive outcomes. The difference for people who are successful (like you said) is that they can choose one and fully invest in it without worrying about “what if…”
My wife and I like this statement: “Action without thought leads you astray; thought without action leads you nowhere.”
Objective leaders have the Obligation to take options and determine the course to chart.
The leadership Objectives need to be a shared experience for engagement and Ownership of all.
While those objectives will not always carry Optimism, it is still part of the Oath and honor of leadership.
Successful leadership needs to be Organic and evolving as do the options.
Optimism, by its nature, tends to be forward looking, always scanning the horizon for more opportunities, leading the way rather than approaching situations in an Ovine mindset. (Okay, last one was a stretch)
Options (especially with the more critical decisions as Marsha noted) are very important. The one thing that I would add to the mix to give options power to move forward is — criteria.
Options, alone, go nowhere. Options assessed against criteria for a desired outcome are VERY powerful. They prevent tunnel vision and often illuminate a NEW idea that brings the best results.
Leaders who have both “Js” and “Ps” (Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator) working with them will be able to come to the best decisions. All Js (action people) or all Ps (possibility people) will struggle with making optimal decisions.
FYI: Kudos to Tim/wife’s saying — “Action without thought leads you astray; thought without action leads you nowhere.”
I will add one more “O” for leaders — “OUTWARD”. Even introverted leaders must at some point communicate outwardly – their vision, kudos to team members, questions to spur discussion etc…
I am still loving this alphabet of leaders. Can’t wait for “X”!
Option in life is necessary evil… When plan A doesn’t suit, you shift to plan B, or when Plan A has some hiccups, you modify it and construe plan B with better options. But thinking about options and doing nothing can lead into a state of deficiency. Leaders must not omit options for the sake of decision but every decision should precisely cover every options.
A excerpt from the quote of Malcolm Forbes elucidates “Free speech is the first requisite of freedom and a viable, functioning democracy. The exercise of it cannot be at the option of those who think the right to dissent includes the right to destroy”
Keeping a door open for options is but a good practice when you are dealing in multi-structured processes where the judgemental parameters varies and depends largely on situation and state of action.