Resilient Leadership: Decision Making
There has been this intrusive myth that the best leaders are the ones who make the best decisions. However, according to a recent study published in the Harvard Business Review, one of the four things that set successful leaders apart is the ability to make decisions with speed and conviction.
In my article, Resilient Leadership Part 1, I reviewed the power of Active Optimism, the baseline of Active Optimism is that you can be an agent of change if you choose to do so. One of the keys to be a change agent is to take decisive action.
The following comes from the U.S. Navy SEAL Ethos:
In the absence of orders, I will take charge, lead my teammates, and accomplish the mission. I stand ready to bring the full spectrum of power to bear to achieve my mission and the goals established. The execution of my duties will be swift. Yet guided by the very principles I serve to defend. By wearing the Trident, I accept the responsibility of my chosen profession and way of life.
A resilient leader can rebound from adversity, challenges, and setbacks.
All too often, in today’s world, we see a few people, even leaders who fail to take responsibility for their decisions. Blame will be shared, responsibility will be avoided, and decisions will be null and void.
Please do not fall into the trap of indecision.
The second component of Resilient Leadership is Decisive Action.
Decisive action does at least three things:
- It helps mitigate adversity.
- It helps rebound from adversity.
- It promotes personal and business growth in the wake of adversity.
Take a moment and think about your own life. Have you ever squandered valuable time, money, or energy because you were unsure of which path to take? I know I have! At the risk of being crass, I have struggled with decision constipation in my own life. And while I could spend much time in therapy ruminating about it, which would be useless, I have and am learning to make a decision. If it is the wrong one, I can always adjust.
Remember the old saying, “The early bird gets the worm.”
I believe that people who succeed in life act when opportunities arrive.
If you look at successful businesses and ministries, proactive decision making usually leads to creating trends rather than following them. Whoever thought Amazon would become what it is today?
At this moment, I am writing on any Apple MacBook Pro and cross-referencing on my iPhone XR.
Let’s look at Apple for a moment.
Steve Jobs is known as the “Father of the Digital Revolution.” He co-founded the company with Steve Wozniak in 1976, and since then has radically changed the fields of communication, music, literature, and modern cinema. Jobs’ most significant ability was to make decisions and push through to fruition.
Everyone pretty much agrees that Wozniak was the brains behind Apple. But Jobs was the driving force behind the rapid growth of Apple and its related ventures. He had a unique ability to see future markets, look beyond existing limitations, and create non-traditional business models.
At a Macworld conference, Jobs once said, “There is an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love: ‘I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”
Being decisive not only helps you mitigate adversity, but it also helps team members in rebounding from adversity.
Acting quickly and decisively reduces stress and empowers others to push through challenges and adversity.
Practically speaking, the most powerful way to push through some types of adversity is resisting the pressure of psychological avoidance and paralysis by doing something to help yourself and others. Take action. Make mistakes. Gain strength by identifying and going after a meaningful goal.
Albert Bandura concluded, after forty years of research, that the single best way to promote self-esteem, self-empowerment, and resilience is through achievement.
Decisiveness does promote growth in the wake of adversity.
Dr. Marty Seligman, in his book, The Optimistic Child, argues, “Our society has shifted from an achieving society to a feel-good society. Up until the ’60s, personal achievement was the most important goal to instill in our children.”
In recent years, the goal has shifted from achievement purposes to happiness and self-esteem.
Seligman says you cannot teach self-esteem. Self-esteem is the result of failures and succeeding in the world. It is earned, not given.
In his book Antifragile, Nassim Nicholas explains how people and organizations can persist despite certain black swan events (an unforeseen or unpredictable event) thrown by life and gain more strength on the way. Much like when various germs test our immune system, it builds more immunity.
Nicholas uses some convenient ways to describe this process.
Fragile things break quickly and need to be handled with care. Take, for example, a china teacup.
Resilient things can tolerate shock, setbacks, and adversity. Have you ever noticed that plastic cups never break when they fall?
Nicholas has framed the term ‘Antifragile’ to denote things that thrive and grow in a challenging environment.
There is an old saying that says, “Prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child.”
Virginia Satir once noted, “Most people prefer the certainty of misery to the misery of uncertainty.
Do you want to become more decisive? Do you want to up your game in the area of taking personal responsibility? Here are six solutions, antidotes, if you will, for six of the most deadly threats that may be holding you back.
- The issue: Petrifying fear of failure. Here are some examples of people who engaged their fear of failure:
Charlize Theron. When Theron was 15, she witnessed her mother shoot her alcoholic father in the act of self-defense. Instead of letting the trauma immobilize her ambition, Theron channeled her energy into making a name for herself. She would eventually become one of the most respected and talented actresses, becoming the first South African actress to win an Academy Award.
Michael Jordan missed more than half of the shots he took. “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Winston Churchill failed the sixth grade and lost every public election he entered until being elected Prime Minister of Great Britain at age 62. “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm…Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
2. The Issue: Fear of being made fun of for being different.
3. Procrastination: The one I struggle with the most. Waiting too long to act. Another way of putting it is closet perfectionism. The desire to wait until the moment of absolute certainty before making a decision can be compelling.
4. Failure to communicate clearly. Here is a formula that may help.
Describe the need to act or change in some way. This action could be related to a personnel issue, a market issue, or some other type of unanticipated change.
Describe the cause of the problem.
Describe the effects of the problem; both realized and anticipated.
Describe what specific actions need to take.
Describe, if relevant, what actions need to be taken to reduce the likelihood of a recurrence of the problem
5. Involving too many people in the problem-solving process can be seen as an attempt to please all the right people or to attain perfection.
Solutions: Study how other successful leaders manage this part of their journey.
6. Being overwhelmed by too much information.
Remember the 80-20 rule; 80 percent of the problem comes from 20 percent of the potential sources. Or use Ockham’s razor (the law of simplicity): When faced with competing alternative courses of action, choose the one that rests on the fewest assumptions.
7. Losing focus.
Albert Einstein said, “Genius is the ability to focus on one particular thing for a long time without losing concentration.”
Excerpt from The No Fear Entrepreneur
So many entrepreneurs and ministry leaders fail to build their business/ministry because they are trying to do too much. The primary reason they experience frustration, as opposed to feeling a sense of accomplishment, is a lack of focus.
Dr. Tom Barrett says, ”Focus is the birth canal through which dreams become a reality.”
As a businessperson or ministry leader, your success or failure will be a direct result of how well you maximize your strengths, your passion, and your “Why.” Your strengths are those activities you naturally enjoy doing and would do them for free your entire life if necessary. Every great entrepreneur in history who has experienced success has done so by doing what they loved and loving what they do.
One of my favorite authors, Simone Sinek, says, “Optimism is the ability to focus on where we’re going, not where we have come from.’ If you are looking for an exceptional resource to help clarify your why I wholeheartedly recommend his book, Start with Why? While you are at it, check out this TED talk he gave a few years ago concerning the importance of knowing your why.
In my work as a leadership coach, I like to ask my clients five simple questions.
1. What makes you come alive?
2. What are your core strengths?
3. Where do you add the most significant value?
4. What is your mission, your why?
5. How will you measure your life?
6. What is holding you back?
Solution: Apply this variation of Pascal’s Wager, sometimes referred to as the best-case/worst-case analysis.
When faced with a challenging decision, ask yourself these questions:
- What’s the best thing that’s likely to happen if I act?
- What’s the worst thing that’s likely to happen if I act?
- What’s the best thing that’s likely to happen if I do not act?
- What’s the worst thing that’s likely to happen if I do not act?
- Then make your choice.
Ancient Widson.Trust in the Lord with all of your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seelk his will in all that you do and he will show you the path to take.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT
Choose one thing that will help you become more decisive and increase your responsibility.
Everly Jr., George. Stronger: Develop the Resilience You Need to Succeed. AMACOM. Kindle Edition.