Leadership Challenge: Making The Wrong Decision

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“What if I make the wrong decision?”  “What if I do not have all the data to make the decision?”  “What will people think of me after I make the decision?”  These are the questions of a cautious leader.

A decisive leader is able to look at a complex situation and make a decision out of a position of confidence and strength.  The decisive leader may struggle with these questions internally, yet outside they are able to move forward.

It is just as much of a risk to sit on a pile of information and not make a decision vs. moving forward knowing that the outcome is uncertain.

Think of this challenge from a followers perspective. Do followers expect the leader to be perfect or would they prefer the leader be thoughtfully decisive?

A suggestion for leaders that struggle with caution. Consider the situations where extreme accuracy is important. The tax return, the financial report, the sales report are examples where having a thorough and accurate report is necessary.  What about that poor performing employee?  Is there really a need to give it more time to see if they will come around, after you have had many performance conversations?  If you tolerate this behavior any longer, you are really saying that the behavior is acceptable inside your business.

So, what if you do make the wrong decision?  You need to consider yourself in process vs. considering growth as a destination.  You evaluate the decision and move on.  The catastrophe you have created in your mind most likely will not happen and it could really lead to something better in the future.

Your team would like you to be confident and I doubt they really expect perfection.  In fact, they might actually like to see your humanity as you own a mistake and move forward.

Here are a few thoughts from one of my favorite books: “Why CEOs Fail” by Dotlich and Cairo

  • “Pretty soon, the problem has spiraled out of control or the opportunity has been missed, and the very failure you sought to avoid is brought about by indecision.” p. 40
  • “Highly cautious leaders prefer to remain on the sidelines during discussions, rarely offering their own point of view.” p. 45
  • “Confront your worst fears and make them conscious. It lessens the fear.” p.45

Make a decision this week and see how it goes.  Let me know the outcome of your decisiveness. Very exciting!