As a leader in this organization, how do I make tough decisions?
Making difficult decisions in leadership roles can be easier if basic concepts are followed.
We regularly hear politicians and news commentators argue that “strong leadership is needed”, particularly in critical times such as in response to natural disasters, domestic terrorism incidents, or during economic crisis. However, strong leadership is also needed in our own local communities, to help achieve important goals for sustainable economic growth and improvements within the community and surrounding areas.
Leadership is defined as “organizing a group of people to achieve a common goal”. But, how does that really happen? How do those in leadership positions make the tough decisions needed to face today’s challenges?
Neil Ducoff, in “Wake up! Inspiring and challenging strategies on what it takes to be a no-compromise leader” states “Avoiding the tough decisions can be pure agony. The longer you wait, the more stressful it gets. The longer you wait, the more difficult the solution or change.” So, where do you start as you consider a decision for your organization?
Make decisions based on the mission of the organization. If the issue is not within the realm of the mission, carefully consider your involvement. The mission statement should reflect the work and focus of today’s organization, and all work should be focused and consistent with the organization’s mission statement.
Ducoff states that it is a leader’s responsibility to make tough decisions. So, now that there is focus, quit avoiding the issue and start thinking about what you need to know. What factors are critical to consider and where can you find that information? The sooner you make your decision, the sooner you can begin to implement the plan to address the issue.
You should never isolate yourself when making decisions, because others will often have critical knowledge and experiences which should be considered. Through discussion and collaborative decision making, you will develop a group understanding of the problem, discuss a plan of action with potential outcomes and consequences, and develop consensus for resolution. You then collectively own the decision and take responsibility for making it happen.
Maintain high ethical standards for fair and transparent decision making. You may need to let others know why you are making a particular decision. Sharing this information will eliminate potential concerns and questions before they arise. Ducoff states that “The outcome you fear most is rarely as bad you imagined. The simple process of working through a tough decision prepares you for most of the stuff you dread - if that stuff occurs at all.”
Now, take action to address the issue. Leaders must be committed to seeing through the implementation of tough decisions. However, this may involve making adjustments when necessary to ensure the intended outcome is reached. Course correction is preferred to blind obedience in the face of new information.
Michican State University Extension’s Leadership and Community Engagement team offers training for improved effectiveness in several areas, including communicating through conflict, volunteer board development, meeting management and facilitation skills development, and organizational strategic visioning and planning. To contact an expert in your area, visit http://expert.msue.msu.edu/ or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).
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