Would Someone Please Make a Decision
The dictionary for leaders series landed on “D” this morning. Leaders make decisions.
Frustrated readers complain about leaders who won’t make decisions.
Effective decisions are tipping points where talk becomes action.
Action creates responsibility.
7 consequences of not making decisions:
- Motivation declines. Why bother?
- Talent checks out. (Literally or figuratively)
- Frustration escalates.
- Progress stops.
- Politics and distraction take over.
- Resources are squandered.
- Busy work dominates. People start circling their navels.
Highly political leaders don’t make decisions when responses are uncertain.
Seven strategies of making decisions in uncertain situations:
- Let everyone know you are in learn as you go mode.
- Dedicate a minimum of resources. Don’t bet the farm until you’re 80% sure you’ll win. (Level of certainty depends in large part on organizational culture.)
- Evaluate frequently and aggressively. What’s working?
- Honor learning. What are we learning?
- Adapt quickly. Stop doing what doesn’t work.
- Minimize damage if things go wrong.
- Take responsibility. Avoid blame.
- Celebrate progress frequently and briefly. What’s next?
- Decide to delay but explain why.
- During delay, reach for new goals or engage in related activities.
Two lousy decisions:
People decisions based on too much hope result in regret. Don’t expect people to magically develop competence. A track record of disappointment predicts a disappointing future if you continue on the same path.
Gut decisions when you don’t have experience are disasters. When you don’t have experience in marketing, for example, don’t go with your gut. Go with those who have been where you want to go.
29 Leadership “D” words from Leadership Freaks on Facebook:
What decision-making suggestions can you offer?
Which leadership “D” words are important to you? Why?
This is a thought provoking post. May I add to the dictionary?
Leaders also need Drive ( sometimes being motivated from their own
internal vision). Distinction (at times must have abilityI to set themselves apart ). I think those are also key…
Thanks Vonbetta. It’s a joy to read additions to the list. Drive and distinction are important. Distinction seems to be the term that carries the most difficulty. How to be distinct but not arrogant or off putting? Perhaps bringing humility to distinction solves most of the issues.
Good morning Dan,
I have really no idea why I subscribe because I am not a leader, but…I receive so much insight for my daily life. I sometimes will share with others that I know that are in a leadership position advice I read here.
I love this one because it applies to my husband and I, you see getting older and making bad decision sometime through our life, we find it hard to make a simple decision and all the reasons you stated are true because I live it, Just like you said, frustration escalates, and progression just stops for sure. I know it is silly but…
Thanks as always love, reading you daily.
Thanks kymeem. Your comment encourages me. It’s great that you get benefit from these posts.
When I’m leading a team, sometimes I ask, “What’s keeping us from making a decision right now?” That question often moves the agenda forward.
Key decisions are easier to make when you save your decision making potential energy for them. Steve jobs would have a closet full of the same outfit so he wasn’t wasting decision making power on clothes choices. I do something similar by having a checklist of what I need to do each morning and a before-I-walk-out-the-door checklist next to our house door handle. It’s got really basic stuff like keys (office), water bottle, wallet, phone, etc.; 9 items total. You’d be amazed how much mental energy those little workarounds free up.
The bad-leadership word this helps you to avoid is “depleted”
Thanks James. Your story combined with the word “depleted” is very helpful. You’ve given motivation for those who don’t make list to start.
The last word in your list, “dynamic” compels me to promote the use of modeling decision options before making or implementing them. This can be done through use of systems dynamics.
Thanks Robert. It’s pretty hard to think of any significant leadership without also including systems. Great add
You have covered an exhaustive list of leadership traits. I would like to add two words- differences and discouragement. I have taken these words in organisational contexts. In the organisations, these words show the leadership of management.Discouragement arises from difference- difference in treatment, approach, and attitude etc. In other words, when management start differentiating people on various self decided parameter, then discouragement will tend to emerge. People will feel disconnected with the organisation and its goal. They will passively continue to work. There will not be energy and enthusiasm.
Management not believing in this ideology emerge as organisational leaders.They encourage and connect people with organisational goal. They are recognized even after they leave the system.Leaders create impact.
I think when we tend to win over our differences, we invite positivity in all our approaches, beliefs and behavior. And this is beginning of leadership journey.
Thanks Dr. Gupta. You masterfully brought two “D” words together. Very insightful.
If we aren’t deliberate about defeating differences we end up discouraged. 🙂
Do you have a big challenge? DiSSECT it. What part can you tackle? Break it down into DO-able pieces. Then just start. DO something. Evaluate, then adjust. DO the next thing.
Thanks Dauna. Wow! A scientific term. Love dissect combined with do-able pieces. That’s just delightful.
Excellent suggestion about dissecting and breaking a challenge down into do-able pieces. Both activities are key to making a decision that one can live with – and defend.
Wow, love this concept Dan. Decisions are what makes or breaks an effective leader.
Paul // Leadership Blogger, http://www.paulsohn.org
Thanks Paul. It’s pretty hard to be a leader without making decisions.
Thanks for the great post. Although, I’m not in a leadership position, I too benefit from your posts in life and work! I sometimes forward your posts to leaders in my organization (while trying to avoid being seen as disrespectful).
Thanks djackson. Thanks for the good word and support.
Hy Dan – great topic!
Some decisions I make very quickly and others I hesitate out!
I wondered why!
And then I imagined a second question: how I am and how I want to be!
What can also be practical and useful in the normal behavior mode to have the smallest decisions in the flow (GO) … such as driving a car, brush your teeth …
leaves other choices appear larger or accept us, we do not have a real choice or option.
Like “Pavlov’s Dog” – we are dependent on our habits! A decision is a purpose and a goal – then a venture or adventure or a burden on our shoulder.
A decision is a choice – to be able to take it from a good conscience and with a powerful Yes from full Herzern – is a challenge, especially for those who think they have no choice.
Our coinage is not always aware of – and certainly not the habit – animal in us, too – smiles!
Clarity is important and a work-up of his own past in the mirror can maybe useful
Habit is inertia in mind.
Get out of the comfort zone and forth with the adventure spirit.
Again, learn to play – learn through play – never forgett the Joker is with you! .-)
Decisions may make playful joy
Decisions must be unlocked by embossments
Decisions may fire the imagination and freedom of choice to use appropriate tools.
The joy of a decision is unlocked and inspires – to act.
Thanks, for great input again – very helpful for me!
Greetings of Joy – Beate
Thanks Beate. I appreciate the thought and time you put into your comment. One of the things that resonates with me is the joy part. Not making decisions defeats us. Making decisions may be dangerous and we may not succeed, but the potential for joy is much deeper. Cheers
Joy is perfect! Cheers Dan and thank you – I think you must be a lucky man!
I just think of two of my favorite quotes from Einstein:
The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.
I have no special talents, I am only passionately curious.
be passionate curiosity, have joy in deciding and expect great secret successes
– think about it! Believe in yourself and your (hidden) potential! Rejoice
And what is time? … a pointer which rotates on the clock! .-)
Sorry for a little textural error – the word “Herzern” means >> wholeheartedly <3
Decision – depends up from our past and an unknown future!
We´re the "most" of the time – in a level of behavior – where habit patterns are fixed
– this let us acting often inflexible – it's more like reacting than making new decisions. .-)
Nice post. How D for Decision is deep integrated into our life. Each and every minute we make some decision and thats how life goes on. We are leaders by birth. Aren’t we!? 😕
Thanks Pro. I thought about being cognizant of the little decisions we make that impact our future as I read your comment.
Sorry – but – LEADERS BY BIRTH? Is this the only and true truth? – I don´t think so …
We are influenced by other >consciousness carriers<"!
Do they really well with us or they are ignorant?
– If the education is not a limitation, including through limited consciousness assets!?
The hour of birth – and you come to the first expectations in this world:
to be loved and nurtured. And then follow the first expectations of you, do not scream so loud, be a well-behaved child and of course – be silent .-) And if you do not do what I tell you, then woe … Judgments and dependencies and no free choices in sight. Only a black shadow follows your youth. Something's wrong here! Where's the fun factor and the individual freedom to be allowed to make their own decisions – independent? From 18 and you're not a free guide any more, but a dependent other expectation expectations and docile slave fulfillment in this type of society! A product of this social cell.
You will have only one choice – reset – and go wild .-) and maybe angry or crazy … and reactivate your inner truth and make a drastic decision: activate your free mind and will!
Be a free individual-divine! Or become a well-paid influential leader of a group … or a nation?
This decision makes you happy. And now use your IQ & EQ to be as free as possible – even about your life and circumstances – to decide! .-)
And now you´re a leader of your own desicions?
And we do not question our coinage! And we do not question the limiting Learning Systems? We do not know what consciousness we would – there would be a genuinely free creative consciousness unfolding. Then we would all still here? … and making only happy decisions! Yes, we can.
I just thought in the sense that if someone smiles, its his/her decision to smile. If a small baby wants to touch you, it is a decision made by the baby. When a bright light comes into our eyes, we close our eyes. That is also a decision. It is applicable on each and every living being on this earth. That means we are leaders of our own. But when we say great leader. it means influencing others life, by making a positive change in others. I think I am looking at a smaller possibility or a small thought or through a smaller window!! 😐
Btw. Thanks for your insight on this Beate. 🙂
Thanks LP. You took a decision to write this post, a decision to comment on it, and a decision to read this comment. Decision -> impact.
In my opinion, a great leader knows how his/her decision will impact others.
Thank you, this goes with a saying a wise woman told me years ago. Completion is better than perfection.
With every decision – open new decision released space!
Strategy 7 and 8 is what I’m looking for. Good one!
Hey Dan, great topic! The consequences of not making decisions that you have provided are some great examples of detrimental effects within an organization. By not making decisions, the people in charge appear undecided and unwilling to try to make things better. Most times this act of indecisiveness is driven by fear of failure. As you have provided, the culture of the organization is more than likely going to be the driving factor.
It is for this reason that it is so vital that organizations establish a culture that supports growth and development rather than one that is dominated by fear. Individuals need to feel safe in making decisions which in-turns helps provide opportunity for development through learning. Again, as you have stated, without this type of climate, people retract, withdraw and simply exist.
Brent, how would you do that? In many situations you’re simplynot allowed to fail ever. Failure means the poor old shareholders will get a smaller pound of flesh off you, and that simply can’t be permitted. Fail now to win bigger later is an alien concept in most industries and is about as popular an idea as plague. How would you sell it? I’ve tried and got nowhere!
Wonderful. I would add Different to the dictionary. Leaders need to be different from others and stand out. They need to challenge . Not making a decision is possible only at one’s peril.
What about D for discernment? I think that’s one of the most critical aspects of decision making. Often I find decision paralysis results in having too much data or too many options; you’ll have to use discernment to weed out the least promising options and hone in on those that are most likely to achieve the desired outcome.
Thanks K. That’s a great “D.” Glad you dropped in. Now I have to figure out how to weigh options. 🙂