When You Can’t Make A Decision

Leadership decisions
The third choice may feel safe, but it tarnishes your leadership.

I recently wrote about how leadership is tied to managing yourself first. If you cannot lead yourself first, then leading others is pretty hollow. Ultimately, it comes down to your ability to make decisions with conviction.

When I deal with “maybe” people, I take their “maybe” as a “no”. It’s the same thing. No decision is a decision. Maybe people don’t help you get you where you want to go. Their indecision is a sign of a lack of clarity on what they want or believe, and this only eats up time and focus that can be used with more decisive customers or partners.

There may be times where your do need more time and space to think through a decision. However, I have found that most decisions could very well be made in one minute compared to one week. The surrounding facts rarely change, and the information you had in the beginning is rarely different than what you use eventually to make a decision.

The likely reasons for delaying a decision or being indecisive in the first place changes based on the circumstance. Here are a few reasons I have observed that are often unspoken (for fear of shaming the indecisive one):

  • Lack of conviction. If you need validation from others to help buttress your conviction, this may be wise in some cases. However, it can often be a cover for your own insecurities of owning responsibility around a decision. The ruse is to share the decision, so if it fails, others share the blame. This is the behavior of a manager, not a leader. They are managing risk to themselves.
  • Overanalysis. For highly detailed people, they feel there is an endless amount of information to assimilate into a decision. Often they cannot distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information. The more data the better. I am for having necessary information, but often for the overanalyzer, the cover of data helps their own insecurity of coming to a conclusion.
  • Money. Spending money is emotional for many people. Ironically, as a seller, these people have no problem collecting other people’s money. When they have to invest in their own business, there is a marked dichotomy. The decision becomes overly emotional, and the incongruence of their behavior as a buyer vs. an eager seller only reveals their greed which affects their decision making.
  • Apathy. When the facts change, I change. However, many people see their industry changing or the greater world around them changing and persist in what they believe worked to their own peril. It is apathy and a form of fear and laziness. Instead of taking action and making a decision they are paralyzed and waiting it out. There are greater consequences now in a world where the only sure thing is change.

Every decision has its own nuances. These points aren’t a blanket to cover every one of the hundreds of decisions you will face in the coming week. However, these are plain and simple observations which put a magnifying glass on the behaviors of those you do business with and name it.

It’s also a challenge for yourself. If you exhibit these behaviors, then you erode your own leadership. You don’t know how to be decisive. You can change this habit by intentionally taking every opportunity to be decisive.

So, how can this lens help you to handle yourself and others when it comes to decision making?

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