“Things may come to those who wait, but only things left by those who hustle.” – Abraham Lincoln
When people think about leaders, one of the first things that most of them think about is decision making. People envision leaders sitting on a throne (or in their office) while everyone comes to them with questions and problems. The leaders make some kind of pronouncement, that person leaves, and it’s on to the next one.
There are a lot of other things that leaders do of course, but that image isn’t completely inaccurate. Leaders do make decisions. They maybe aren’t made alone, or without support, or from a throne, but a lot of any organization’s decision-making is done by its leaders. And that’s OK, as long as those leaders are aware enough to ask for help when they need it, or simply admit they don’t have an answer.
The problem in some organizations is the inability – or refusal – to make decisions. Too many leaders are paralyzed by indecision or fear and rather than make the wrong decision, don’t make any decision at all. They just allow things to happen however they may, and then spend their careers reacting to it.
Don’t be that leader. Yes, you may not want to make a decision because you might make the wrong choice. Maybe people will think you don’t know what you’re doing. Guess what? When you don’t make a decision that needs to be made, they already think that. You can’t avoid blame or criticism by not making difficult decisions. You’ll just get a different kind of criticism.
If you struggle to make decisions, get help. Involve people in your organization who thrive in those kinds of situations. If you don’t have any of those people, find people outside your organization who can help. Some people are naturally wired to evaluate and tweak and vet ideas. Get them involved.
Leading a business and refusing to make decisions is like driving a car and refusing to touch the steering wheel. There’s a chance it might work for a while, but as soon as the road gets curvy, you’re in big trouble. And once you’re in the ditch, it can be really tough to get out.