Obeying this simple commandment reassures people that the leader is willing and able to make a tough decision. In meetings, after everyone has weighed in on an issue, it’s time to decide. Sometimes the decision is clear cut. But sometimes it’s not so clear. Someone has to decide. In that moment, a leader must lead. Sadly, to avoid conflict or taking an unpopular stand, some leaders look for consensus. But the people are looking for a decision. When the leader takes the middle ground or puts off the decision entirely, frustration mounts.
In their book, “Ten Presidential Decisions that Changed History” Thomas J. Craughwell and Edwin Kiester Jr. illustrate tough decisions made by presidents. Here are three:
- Although the US Constitution didn’t grant him the authority, Thomas Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon;
- Over the opposition of his own cabinet, Abraham Lincoln published the Emancipation Proclamation that led to the freeing of 4 million slaves;
- Teddy Roosevelt championed the construction of the Panama Canal linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
There is an element of risk to every decision.
Avoid the following:
- “I need buy-in from everyone before we can commit.”
- “Everyone must agree before we can take action.”
- “I want to ensure that everyone is comfortable with this decision.”
- “I want people to take ownership for the decision so they don’t blame me later.”