Are You a Decisive or Deliberative Leader?

Outstanding leaders are decisive. They are not hesitant, reticent, or unsure. They are brave and daring. They are comfortable making bold decisions, even when they are not 100% sure success will follow. Right?

But how about being deliberative? Calm. Calculated. Intentional. Slow to act. Aren’t these good qualities in a leader as well?

decisive leadership

Be Decisive, But Not Impulsive

You must be decisive. Many leaders are lacking in this area. Why? Because being decisive is risky, and most of us like to play it safe. I want to challenge you and I today to examine how we are doing here. But first, what does it mean to be decisive?

Most of us can probably think of a leader who just cannot make up their mind. It may be obvious to everyone that none of  the choices on the table are perfect; none of them may even be good. Yet still, a decision must be made. And our inner person wants to scream at them, “Come on, buddy! Just made a decision.” Have you ever been in that situation?

Here is a prime opportunity to identify when you are in danger in being indecisive: when there are no good choices. In your leadership you make decisions all the time. Those that have a clear answer, do not require your decisiveness. But when there is a risk, a gray area, a confusing situation, that’s when we most need our leaders to be decisive. We need them to point the way and tell us, “I know the path is not clear, but let me call this. Just follow me. We will find our way together.” Guess what? In these situations, we are not expecting a perfect decision from our leaders. But we do expect a decision. And we do expect courage in the face of uncertainty.

Remember that being hesitant in times of crucial decision-making will spell disaster to your effectiveness as a leader. When action is needed, a decisive leader rallies the confidence of his people by taking action—any action. When leaders don’t act, because they are waiting to make “the right decision,” their leadership suffers. Twitter_logo_blue Their people lose confidence in them, and they are seen as weak, and unfit for the job.

Warning: Decisive is good. Impulsivity is not. Don’t be reckless in the name of being decisive. And don’t mow over people’s dignity and humanity in the name of being decisive. Put your people first. Always. Being decisive does not mean you stop honoring people.

Be Deliberative, But Not Indeterminate

You also must be deliberative. Some leaders fail here. They love the cathartic high of decision-making. But then the acceptable rate of failure that a decisive leader has, quickly turns into a high rate of reckless mistakes. Why? Because too many decisions are being made quickly, when there really was not a need for quickness.

I know leaders who never deliberate. They always want to decide. Quick. They want to get to the action phase. They never want to give time to strategy or to careful consideration. These leaders rarely if ever go anywhere worthwhile.

Many times what is needed is for us to slow down and deliberate. If we are always impatient, excited, or worse, over-confident and arrogant, our leadership will suffer. When facing choices where time is not of the essence, a deliberative leader will thoughtfully strengthen his team, wait for the right strategy, and move forward when everything is in place.

Deliberative means that you stop. That you refrain from deciding and moving. That in some situations which you deem important enough, or when time is not of the essence, you are disciplined to hold on and contemplate. Deliberation has one goal: find the best answer. Maybe even find the perfect solution.

But too many leaders use the need to deliberate as an excuse to never move. We must take time when needed to deliberate, but then let’s not get lost in the utopic dream of needing all decisions to be perfect. At some point stop the deliberation. When its time to decide, decide.

Are you decisive or deliberate?

So, when asked if you are a decisive or a deliberate leader, what will your answer be? Hopefully you know this is a trick question.  We must be both. Hopefully your answer is: I am decisive when I need to be. I am deliberative when I need to be.

If you want to maximize your reach as a leader, you must be both decisive and deliberative. Great leaders develop a keen sense to know the difference between the two traits and the ability to discern when to be decisive and when to be deliberative.

So go forth and be bold. Be decisive and unafraid. Other times. Stop. Think. Contemplate and deliberate. But remember that great leadership is about forward movement. It’s about scaling mountains.  So I hope you are not living your life in the trenches. I hope you live your life and lead your people into the battlefield of the great goals ahead.

May you have the wisdom to lead wisely.

Your Friend,
Wes Saade MD Signature

BOOK-ME

For Further Reading:

How to Get Things Done: Do It Now, Do It Today
Lead Like A General (The US Army’s Nine Principles of War)

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