This article is Part 3 of a 3-part series by Colonel Albers on traits that can make or break a leader
In the first part of this series we looked at humility – and how true humility is a critical trait that involves right thinking about oneself. Not more and not less. In the second part we examined how important steadfastness under trial is for the leader and for their team. In this final part of our 3-part series we will look at decisiveness and it’s importance in our daily leadership activity.
The Marine Corps engrained JJ DID TIE BUCKLE into my head in 1987 during Officer Candidate School at Quantico, Virginia. The Corps’ leadership traits: Justice, Judgment, Decisiveness, Initiative, Dependability, Tact, Integrity, Enthusiasm, Bearing, Unselfishness, Courage, Knowledge, Loyalty, Endurance. Still haven’t forgotten it nearly 30 years later and it still impacts my leadership filter. In my humble opinion, it should yours too!
How many times have you worked for a person in a leadership role that was indecisive? “Paralysis by Analysis” is how we describe them, no? Frustrating to be held back when all you need is direction and the person in charge won’t issue direction. In my years of leading, being lead, and talking leadership with folks in all industry’s and sub-cultures, the consistent theme I hear is how frustrated people are with indecisive people in leadership roles. Notice that I am avoiding labeling indecisive people as leaders because they aren’t. They may be in a leadership role but if you are indecisive you are not providing authentic and necessary leadership.
Are you decisive? We must start there. Then, as leaders, we have to ask ourselves how we good we are with listening and taking in the facts or relevant info before our “decisiveness” kicks in! People want a decisive leader but they don’t want leaders that rush to judgment and then either change their minds or simply make a bad call. This harkens back to steadfastness and cultivating that trait – it’s tied together – being truly humble (who we are supposed to be), remaining steadfast, and decisive in our decision-making. Now, I will say, that it’s easy to type out or read but difficult to enact consistently all the time. We are constantly being bombarded with information that must be taken in, processed, and moved on – this certainly presents challenges for us as leaders – but great leaders work on being a complete package for the sake of the team and to accomplish “the mission.”
How can you work on being more decisive? I believe that a good starting point is to cultivate emotional intelligence in yourself. Secondly, work on staying ahead of circumstances and thinking through options before you find yourself under duress. Examine all the options and courses of action – decide ahead of time what you will likely do…it’s easier then to adjust when you are required to make the decision. Remember, no plan survives first contact with the enemy! Lastly, find a confidant that can help you in being decisive. Someone you can ask for honest input about how you are doing and make sure it’s not a “yes man/woman!” Now go lead!