Friday, March 6, 2015

tough decisions

I have come to realize the that tough decisions we face in leadership...and in life...are those in which the decisions we have to make are comprised of all good choices.  Tough decisions are not the ones we make between the right thing to do and the wrong thing to do...they are mostly between two choices that both would be good for the individual or for the organization.  This is not about listening to the "good angel" or "bad angels" sitting on each of your shoulders...tough decisions are the opportunities before you or the organization...and which one has the greater upside in the long run.

Currently I have several tough decisions before me, many of which are not emergency decisions and will allow me to take the necessary time to make the choice (I started to type "the best choice" and then paused since the decisions are around multiple right or good choices).  So how are these decisions made without paralyzing the individual or the organization?  Here are a few of my thoughts:

  • begin by understanding (and accepting) that the decision is between two or more good choices.  While this tension may be hard to hold, it is a fact.  If the decisions is between a good an bad choice, then make the decision simple by choosing the good choice.
  • take time to make the decision.  Most decisions do not need to be made immediately and time can bring clarity to the decision.  If someone else is pressing for a quick decision, do all you can to put it off for a short time.
  • get the facts...and get the hard facts.  Do a complete analysis for those areas which are important to the organization at that time.  Consider all of the areas and functions that need to be taken into account and drill down deep into the facts as they emerge.
  • build a team...these decisions often require multiple perspectives, and having a team to bounce the ideas off of can bring some clarity to the decision making process.
  • build the right team...while there may be an executive or administrative team in place, different decisions call for different people at the table.  Get the expertise needed to assist in making the decision.
  • remember that this is your decision and as the leader, you will need to take ownership for it.  Regardless of the team and its input, the decision must be owned by the leader and she must be responsible for seeing it through.
  • consider implementation of the decision and how it can best be executed.  Making the tough decision is only the it has to become a reality.
As you move along the path of making tough decisions, remember that prayer is also an important part of that process.  Asking for clarity, discernment and courage allows you to open yourself up to God's direction in your life...and in the life of the organization.  Time spent in quietness and solitude can be time well spent when facing tough decisions.  

And one final note...going through this type of process does not guarantee that the decision will benefit the organization in the long run.  Often times a decision made at the time looks and feels right from all angles...and can still turn out to hurt the organization.  These times remind us that we are still finite beings with limited knowledge and understanding.  This is why we call them tough decisions...

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