Leaders Know How to Stand Alone

Gerwig 2016-02-10

Do you prefer being alone or blending in with the crowd? Leaders, of all kinds, are often in a crowd. They are part of a team, part of a family, or part of an organization. Their team may number in the single digits or it may number in the thousands. And while great leaders generally are adept in a crowd, they frequently have to go it alone. Leaders know how to stand alone.

Why? Well, you can collaborate, you can talk with others, you can get input from others, and you can gather data from a variety of people, but at some point, you have to make the decision. You, not someone else. You, not your parents. You, not your spouse. You, not your kids. You, not your boss. You, and you alone, must stand tall, swallow hard, and make the decision. You, as all great leaders, must know how to stand alone.

It may be a big decision or a small one but as a leader, whether coach, parent, or corporate executive, you must make the call. At some point, YOU have to decide. You, not the committee. You, not the team. You, not your neighbor. You, not your best friend. YOU must make the decision.

Do you hire the candidate? Do you expand operations? Do you increase cost to improve service? Do you cut the defensive end? Do you approve the recommendation? Will you send your daughter to that college? Will you lease? Will you propose? Will you say yes? Will you follow in the footsteps of your parents or will you follow your own path? Will you tell a small, “white lie,” or will you tell the truth and face the consequences?

Like me, you’ve made hundreds of decisions today. Some good, perhaps some not so good. Sometimes you know the outcome right away. Sometimes it takes a while. But regardless of the outcome and timing, great leaders know how to make decisions. You might decide correctly or poorly. But you and you alone have to decide. And once made, you have to OWN your decision. You can make adjustments if your decision was poor. You can make new decisions and go in a completely different direction if needed. Or you may bask in the glory your decision brought. But regardless of the outcome, good or bad, you, as the decision-maker, must own the decision. It’s what leaders do.

Who will you marry? When will you introduce the new product? Will you reprimand or ignore? How much will you spend? How will you chose to allocate? When will you quit? When will you begin? What will you positivity reinforce? What will you punish? What will you read? Watch? Write? Ignore? And on it goes. Decisions. Hundreds of them. Decisions you must make regardless of the process. In the end, the leader stands alone.

Even if you have the support and backing of the board, your team, your family, or even your country, it’s your decision. You’re the leader, the decision-maker and you stand alone.

It’s not easy. You will be 2nd guessed, ridiculed and, at times, ostracized. But you’ll also be recognized, valued, honored, and rewarded (assuming you’re a good decision-maker overall).

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Be confident.
  2. Leverage others (i.e. their knowledge) before and after the decision.
  3. Adjust as necessary based on the outcome of the decision and the ever-changing environment in which the decision was originally made.
  4. Give the decision time. Don’t judge success or failure too quickly.
  5. Be humble.
  6. If it’s a poor decision, regroup, adjust, make another decision, and move on.
  7. Don’t look back with regret. If you do look back, do so to learn. Then move forward. Look to the future with anticipation.

Many people avoid positions of responsibility and leadership because they fear making decisions. However, to serve others and truly love them, you must make decisions. And others will benefit if you develop confidence, humility, and competence in your decision-making ability. You will benefit as well.

How about you? Do you like making decisions or do you avoid them? Do you blend confidence with humility? Has your decision-making improved over time?

As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.

Dr. is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]LeadStrategic.com.

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