Deciding When the Choice Is Unclear
Let’s have a conversation today about making tough decisions. Whether leading others or leading ourselves, making the right decision determines our level of success.
Stripped down to the basics, there are two types of decisions. As leaders we must know the difference between the two. By having this understanding, we will be able to avoid problems on multiple fronts.
1. CLEAR DECISIONS: Data Provides Clarity
You have an important decision to make. So you research the problem, come up with options, then list the pros and cons. You sit back, contemplate, and talk to others. In a relatively short time, it becomes clear to you what needs to be done. Actually, it is equally clear to almost anyone with relative intellect looking at the data. If you have been diligent and honest with your research, then these decisions will be on target. With these types of decisions, you must simply acknowledge the problem, research solutions, then list and evaluate your options. And voila…you’ve landed on the solution!
I wish all our decisions fell into this category. This type of decision may sound easy, but it is not. The key here is gathering the right data and research. Many leaders make poor choices because they do not get the right information to make an informed decision. Nevertheless, if you have a system in place to acquire the right data, these decisions are usually quite clear to execute.
2. GUT DECISIONS: Data Does Not Provide Clarity
Sometimes, all the data gathered will simply not reveal a clear advantage to you one way over another. Even when you give it more time, or talk to the smartest people. Even when you think, ponder, and pray. Nothing rises to the surface as a clear solution. Yet, a choice must be made.
The only thing left for you to do is to make a gut decision. One for which you cannot guarantee success. Or, you can wait.
And therein lies the problem. Waiting. Mature leaders know that some decisions will fall into this category, and that despite the lack of clarity, they simply must decide. Immature leaders though, have a difficult time accepting this, and as a result will often avoid execution. They refuse to make any decision unless it is a perfect decision. So, they just keep waiting for more data and the clarity they crave. But when a leader constantly hesitates, he risks losing the confidence of his people. Why? Because people want leaders who are prepared to make quick decisions when needed, even at the risk of occasionally making a wrong one.
People value courage, guts, and the willingness to stick one’s neck out there when needed. No one wants a leader who is so measured, that he is always hesitating—aiming…aiming…aiming, but never firing. My friend, let’s not be reckless, without plans, strategy, or calmness of spirit. But also, we cannot be so afraid of making mistakes that we will not make a gut decision when needed.
Practically speaking, when I sit down to strategize with my key people, we identify the decisions on the table. We determine, “Is this a Clear Decision or a Gut Decision?” If it is identified as a Gut Decision, then we stop agonizing over it. We do our due diligence and move in the time allotted. We accept the risk, and go for it!
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