Freedom to Decide
He asked her to marry him but she couldn’t give him an answer. She loved him. She wasn’t a decision maker.
Finally, he reiterated his love and desire for marriage but told her he needed her answer in two weeks. If she couldn’t decide by then, sadly, he would move on.
You might call it an ultimatum. From a business point of view, it was a deadline.
She always knew her answer was yes. However, fear paralyzed her. Twenty years later they have two children and a happy home.
Setting a deadline might seem harsh but it freed her to decide. Additionally, it enabled both of them to embrace a new beginning.
Deadlines create launching points.
Realistic deadlines create urgency, refocus the team, motivate creativity, and enhance productivity.
Unfocused, indecisive leaders destroy morale and insult the ability of their team to execute. If you make a decision, great people can make it happen.
Indecisive leaders create teams that eventually turn on each other, create useless work, or begin making emotional irrelevant decisions.
Deadlines drain the drama by enabling meaningful work.
During the EntreLeadership seminar I recently attended, Dave Ramsey offered this useful decision making technique, “Write that deadline on the calendar as a reminder to pull the trigger.”
Best, better, unacceptable
Your best option is assigning deadlines when you assign tasks or decisions. If you didn’t assign a deadline, then go to the team now and set one. It’s unacceptable to let the decision making process drag on.
A decision hasn’t been made until the outcome has a champion. Who’s responsible? Five words make all the difference, “Who does what by when?”
What are the benefits or dangers of setting deadlines?
What deadline setting tips can you suggest?
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I absolutely agree the idea of deadline. Realistic deadline energizes us and unrealistic deadline paralyzed us And your five words ““Who does what by when?” It is the classic concept. It is full of accountability, measure ability and deadline. I believe deadline is always beneficial when taken into right intention and direction. Deadline should consider reliability, compatibility and time horizon. Just setting deadline without considering anything might be disastrous. I think, before setting deadlines we focus on capability of individual or team, resources available, relevance and precise outcome expected. If these things are not clear, deadline idea do not work. At the same time, engagement of individual, integration of effort and connectivity with the purpose is must to meet the deadline. If the deadline does not address the real need, then it might not work.
Culture and leadership practices play major role in meeting deadlines. When promises are more than actions, deadline would not work. When culture is full of vague actions, it would not work. We need a culture and leadership practices based on actions, authenticity and integrity.
You sure added great suggestions we can implement before we establish a deadline. Very helpful.
Thanks for your suggestions.
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Good morning Dan! Setting expectations and deadlines is so vitally important for success. In the business atmosphere that I operate in, I have the unique opportunity to foster and develop success habits with individuals that are used to having “Instant gratification.” When setting expectations, we will work together to set a deadline for completion. Along with this, I will have the person set mini milestones along the way. This allows them to feel a sense of accomplishment in a short period of time as they strive for the ultimate prize.
This is especially helpful for people social psychologist Barry Schwartz (author of The Paradox of Choice) would call “maximizers.” A deadline keeps you from obsessing over every possible option before making a choice. A deadline forces you to choose an the option that best meets your needs given what you currently know, instead of seeking more and endless information and getting paralyzed by perfection. Great post, Dan.
The man Florence Nightingale loved put a deadline on his marriage proposal. Instead of complying and becoming a Victorian British mother, she took the ship to Scutari, adopted an entire army, and invented both the profession of nursing and the hospital as we know it today. Deadlines imposed by others should be viewed with great scepticism!
Dan – fully agree that deadlines are a wonderful tool for driving action. But I use a filter before setting a decision deadline. The first question I ask is “Is this important?” If a decision is not particularly important, I encourage people to just decide and move on. It’s amazing how many decisions fall on the “not important” side of the divide, and they’re not worth putting energy into. Just do it.
On the other hand, if a decision is important, it needs both a deadline and a process for deciding. Ask not only when must the decision be made, but also what’s the scope of the decision (e.g., authorizing funding for a project or reviewing the entire company budget), who needs to be consulted, what data will be used, and how the decision will be made (unanimity? majority? single decider? with or without public debate?).
Then after an important decision, consider how you will learn if it was a good decision? What metrics will you track, who is accountable, how will it fit in with other priorities, and how will learnings be incorporated into future action?
When working with staff, it’s helpful to put deadlines IN THE SUBJECT LINE of a memo. It focuses attention wonderfully, when the subject says: Needed by Thursday 3/30. The email doesn’t slip through the cracks, and staff knows when they need to get it to you. For the same reason having a coach that you know will call you every week at the same time focuses your attention on the things you promised to get done. Life happens, and without a deadline, the important becomes subject to the whims of the urgent.
Good post emphasizing on the role of working on deadlines to achieve success. It’s the key element of organized working with commitment. The habit of following deadlines brings the accountability factor. It leads to building a strong character of fulfilling the tasks in time to effectively support business decisions.
Deadlines throw open good challenges for performers to shine with a sense of achievement with positive contributions.
Successful people will certainly attribute the habit of working on deadlines as the most essential factor to achieve their dream plans with high confidence. One should adopt to this work style right from an early age. Time-table and Diary maintenance can be considered as useful tools to take working with deadlines as essential key habit and move towards professionalism.
Sometimes when you are rushed to meet a deadline you rush and either make the wrong decision because you haven’t considered the consequences or you rush to complete something and don’t put in your best effort
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Deadlines can be deleterious if set arbitrarily. To avoid that, prior engagement/discussion by involved folks is needed. Even in that engaging stage, discussion of deadlines can/should be brought up so that awareness of urgency’s arrival will be in mind. Fits into the ‘no surprises’ theme.
This article kind of reminds us that deadline isn’t such a scary word. I like to give myself “microdeadlines” and break a project into manageable pieces so I don’t find myself getting overwhelmed.