Decisiveness and Leadership

17 04 2012

Chuck Missler

If there is one thing that defines a leader, it is decisiveness.  This is that indispensable ability to weigh the facts, make a plan and then execute it at the right moment.  When the heat is on and somebody needs to act, it is the leader who looks at everything, chooses a course and moves forward without looking back.

Chuck Missler, US Naval Academy grad, once said, “Weak men hurt people.”  He made this statement at a gathering where he spoke on business ethics.  Chuck is a very popular Bible teacher.   What you may not know is that he made his living as a professional executive in the Defense and semiconductor industries for over 30 years.  He was exhorting a group of Christians to be ethical and stable in their business dealings.  And chief among these qualities are decisiveness and keeping one’s word.  “The sanctity of a commitment.”  At the time of this talk, he was CEO of Western Digital Corporation.  A proven leader with ballast.

The Bible tells us in James 1 to ask God for wisdom but to do so without doubting.  Vacillating.  Up and down.  Wishy-washy.  Here today, gone tomorrow.  James concludes that a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.  And such a man should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

Boy, that’s tough.  But here’s why.

When the pressure’s on, the leader cannot afford to buckle.  Time, money, confidence, respect; all are lost when someone in a position to do the right thing can’t make a decision.  Or takes too much time so doing.

It is far better to make ten decisions and have seven of them turn out to be good decisions rather than to wait and wait and only make two good decisions.  The reason is that although both decisions turned out to be good, the effect of waffling has compromised your influence.  Playing it safe often makes your followers feel unsafe.    Why can’t he make up his mind?  Are we staying or going?

Your high calling means being decisive.  You cannot afford to be ambivalent in the clutch.  It is charming when we watch Fiddler on the Roof and see it with Tevye.  In real life, vacillating is uninspiring at best—dangerous at worst.

Being decisive and stable brings a host of benefits not only to the leader but to those who follow him or her.  You earn respect.  You inspire those watching.  In the marketplace, if you can weigh the facts and act quickly, you’re worth more money than those who can’t.  If you’re a military leader, you will undoubtedly save more lives than you lose.

Here’s the challenge.  This next month, make a calculated effort to make quicker decisions.  Do this with anything from where to go out to eat to vacation plans to starting a new growth project, like a blog or exercise program.  Weigh the evidence, do a cost/benefit analysis and then act.

You’re going to be pleasantly surprised.

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5 responses

17 04 2012
Kristin Barton Cuthriell

I am up for the challenge. Thanks, Christian.

18 04 2012
Christian Fahey

You’re welcome Kristin. I’ve learned, as I’ve aged, that decisiveness is more important than one might think. Thanks for reading!

17 04 2012
David Kanigan

On point as usual Christian…and there is more at risk today in slower growth, hyper competitive global market

18 04 2012
Christian Fahey

That’s for sure, David. I’m sure, in your work, that you’re wrestling with critical decisions like never before. Thanks for reading!

4 06 2012
Headwinds? Team resisting change? – Lead.Learn.Live.

[…] Decisiveness and Leadership (The Upside) […]

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