Decisiveness is naturally one of the most sought-after traits in a good leader. Being able to intake information quickly, make an informed choice, and confidently follow through on a decision is a process that all leaders must go through at some point in their careers. In fact, they will go through it many, many times. Whether it’s a CEO deciding the direction of the company or the head of a department managing their team, the burden falls on their shoulders to have the final say — even in uncertain circumstances.
It can often feel like people associate decisiveness with being harsh or domineering. Or at the very least, equate it to stubbornness. Of course, one should avoid being closed-minded when making or following through on decisions. For as valuable as it is, it’s important to not let decisiveness become a negative personality trait. But decisiveness itself has nothing to do with being mean-spirited, it simply means knowing what you want to do.
To truly see how important decisiveness is, picture how a leader might be perceived if they lack decision-making skills. Employees and peers will begin to doubt their capabilities, and they’ll lose any sort of credibility they have as a leader. Projects might be delayed, assignments won’t get done, and great ideas that can majorly benefit the organization will be left on the table.
The most obvious reason I can think of for being indecisive is a fear of failure. What if the choice I make is the wrong one? But agonizing over the “correct” decision is a fruitless effort because you’ll never know which decision was correct until you actually make the decision. And here’s the rub: part of being a good leader is how you handle failure, if it comes. Even if the outcome is poor, taking responsibility and learning from the situation shows those around you that you are still a capable leader, even if it didn’t work out this time.
Research has shown that the outcome of a decision is less important than how the decision was made. What sets a successful leader apart is the ability to make decisions with speed and conviction. Ultimately, a wrong decision is better than no decision at all.
So with all that said, how does one go about being more decisive? Or more specifically, how does one become comfortable being decisive? The answer is, quite simply, confidence.
For those who find themselves in leadership positions, it’s obvious that you got there for a reason: because you’re great at what you do. You’re a marketing guru, or a financial expert, or a tech whiz… whatever your field, you have deep knowledge and expertise to offer in spades, so it’s important to lean on that as you make choices. And think about it, your path to leadership must have been paved with successes in various forms. Even if there are few “major” wins, that doesn’t mean that you haven’t had an impact.
When you feel out of your depth, that’s where you can begin to rely on those around you for advice and help. You should avoid trying to push them into making a choice for you — instead you should trust them to give you the information you need to make a decision and to trust your own conclusion after hearing all considerations.
And aside from expertise, advice from those close to you, it’s important to tap into your own instinct and intuition, built up from years of experience. It may sound abstract, but trusting your gut is the key to making quick decisions. For instance, if you’re in between two choices that both have an equal amount of benefits and potential drawbacks, go with whatever your instinct tells you.
Trusting yourself is easy to say, and harder to do. But for leaders looking to be more decisive, making the effort to do so is game-changing. Once you are no longer spending time stressing over decisions, you’ll find that you have much more mental space to focus on getting results, and on ensuring that your decisions have the best chance at success as possible.