In our book Leadership from 30,000 Feet, we write about the important characteristics of decisive leaders at all levels of an organization including courage, competence, commitment, character and compassion. Intertwined between all these characteristics is the ability of a leader to make decisions in various types of situations and under all kinds of confusing circumstances. This includes times when information and opinions are abundant, but more importantly when there is conflicting or incomplete information and analysis. My colleague and friend Major General Jim “Rev” Jones wrote about some of these situations during his distinguished Air Force career when he had to make time-critical decisions without a lot of useful, decision-quality data. According to General Jones, when something is happening requiring a quick plan of action and a timely decision “all you can do is make the best decision you can with the information that’s available, hope for the best, and be ready to adjust course as required.” Rev goes on to say that “you might not have the perfect solution, but you’re at least moving in the right direction…”
During these challenging post-pandemic times, leaders in companies and organizations often find themselves hesitant to make critical decisions until the economic indicators stabilize or the job market settles down, but that type of indecisiveness might ultimately penalize their team at a time when opportunities abound. Smart leaders prepare themselves to make decisions in confusing environments by becoming quick readers and fast learners who develop a keen analytical sense and are willing to listen intently to subordinates’ inputs while not bogging down when opinions differ. From my experience in various decision-making situations, rarely will the right answer or decision be obvious during dynamic and confusion conditions. You’ll simply have to get in the hot seat and make the best decision you can to keep your organization moving forward.
To borrow my friend’s final thoughts on the subject, General Jones summarizes things this way: ‘Courageous leaders must often make significant decisions based on imperfect information; they need to be willing to adapt to the circumstances at hand versus being overcome by them; and good leaders don’t wait for the perfect answer; they seek positive forward momentum at all times.’
Enjoy the book - its available on Amazon.