Learning to be decisive and the two things that stop me.

After more than 10 years my picture of the moment is more like a bird’s eye view, than sitting in the seat of the car I was driving. From up above I remember the exact place I was parked on the motorway on-ramp, while waiting to converge with the peak hour traffic. I remember the car, the weather and my mood.

Most importantly I remember the conclusion of my self-talk.

“I will make a decision within 24 hours if I have all the information I need, or I will request more information”

It was a decision to be decisive. A resolve not to be a bottleneck. A drive to allow people to move forward with their jobs and projects, quickly and effectively.

It was a verdict against indecisiveness.

Over my years I have often seen very intelligent managers rendered almost ineffective as leaders, because they cannot make decisions.

It would be great if I could tell you I always make decisions quickly, but I falter and generally there are two reasons I’m not decisive;

  1. I fool myself into believing I must have 99.99% certainty before making the call, which I barely ever get, so I sit on it.  Over think it. And wait … and wait.
  2. I know the decision that needs to be made, but it is hard. It involves hard conversations that people might not like. People might not like me. So I do nothing.

In both cases, my indecisiveness annoys the people I work with, and cripples the organisation I am trying to lead.

To be sure being decisive has risk. Making a decision with only 60% of the information can mean you get it wrong. It can cost money. It can make you look bad. Really bad!

But from my experience, you also make a heap more good decisions than bad. And the good decisions seem to out multiply the bad.

When I left the job I had at the time, two of my team independently told me I was the most decisive manager they ever had.

Of course being decisive applies to every area of our lives.

The implication; decide to be decisive.