Make Up Your Mind, For God’s Sake!
“I just can’t take it anymore,” she said fuming with anger and disappointment. “It’s been months and my manager and I are still beating around the bush with the same topic. We discussed several solutions a long time ago and I proposed good alternatives. She just needed to approve the final decision. But nada, nothing! I’m sick of this “Let’s wait and see” attitude. Aur revoir and welcome new challenges!"
Frustrations like this over leaders who cannot make a decision reach me all too often. While working with CEOs, their teams, interviewing people from other companies, discussing life and business with a network of entrepreneurs, I have seen time and again that making those calls at the right moment can make or break you as a leader that people trust and respect.
A leader's role is pretty much all about making decisions
These decisions range from simple to complex, from tactical to strategic. A leader's ability to make decisions marks the difference between a poor, good and exceptional leader.
I remember – in previous leadership roles – struggling frequently with the thought that things will somehow miraculously solve themselves. There have been moments filled with hope that the winning idea will pop up when the time is right, that the situation with the employee whose progress hasn’t made either of us happy will now, after all the hard work, eventually change for the better, that the awesome solution for the budget cut will appear next week and so on. But guess what? I don’t believe in miracles anymore :)
Avoiding hard decisions: rationalizations for leaders
When you finally decide and take action, you often realise "I should have done it weeks ago!". So why then does it take us so long when we know how it ends? Based on what I’ve seen, it’s very often a mixture of fear and hope. We really want to rationalize things for ourselves. How very human!
Here are three common rationalizations leaders tend to use for putting off difficult decisions:
1. “I’m being considerate of others.”
2. “I’m committed to quality and accuracy.”
3. “I want to be seen as fair.”
🤔What was the last situation where you felt one of those rationalizations was holding you back? How did it affect your business? Your team?
Although these rationalizations are all reasonable, they convey a message. One thing is finding excuses and putting the difficult decisions off, another muy importante! side effect is the message those situations carry to the whole team. In my experience, leaders often forget that all eyes are on them and people read signs, interpret them and draw conclusions constantly.
Three suggestions to build your decision-making muscle
You have to make decisions, there is no way around it. So, if you are struggling, let me give you three easy steps to start you on the road to being a better decision-maker.
1. Make strengthening your decision-making muscle part of your self-development plan. The first step here is to take a fixed period (let’s say one month) and start writing down the situations where you find yourself struggling to make the call. These “diary” entries help create clarity and raise awareness around what’s really happening.
2. Strengthening your decision-making muscle is a long-term process. Small but steady steps lead to the desired results. Those golden rules of forming long-term habits do actually work!
3. Being accountable to someone with your progress can give you an extra boost. If you need that extra helping hand to help you keep on track, find that someone you can open up to. Is it another Team Lead from your company, a friend or external coach? There are several ways to go about it.
Your turn to take that decision!
Leadership means taking a stand. The decisions you make define actions that drive your business and your team. There are ethical dilemmas, there are business challenges, questions around hiring and letting someone go. Being decisive is so innately part of leading a team that if it is ever so painful for you, maybe leadership is not for you.
However, if you struggle with those hard calls, but are willing to put effort into changing your approach, there are SOLUTIONS. So make the decision and let the actions follow.
“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” Theodore Roosevelt