Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide. – Napoleon Bonaparte
Here at FastCompany.com, we discuss leadership and its application on business. We realize leadership is applicable in all areas of life and many of the ideas and skills we talk about can be used outside the workplace. But out of all the leadership skill we discuss, the ability to make a decision is the most important.
The first indicator to the world that you might be leadership material is the simple ability to make a decision. Maybe you have all the facts and maybe you don’t, but if you’re able to quickly access a situation and make a decision while others stand idle, you’re light years ahead of the curve. That doesn’t mean you’re making the right decision or that you have a full grasp of the situation. What sets you apart is the courage to make a decision. Once you have that going for you, it becomes a matter of refining and building around it.
Now the question is why is this so difficult for so many? One reason is that many are paralyzed by the fear of making the wrong decision. As I stated in “Just Fine Being The Bad Guy,” fear disempowers. People are afraid how making the wrong decision is going to affect them, make them look to others, make them feel, and etc. After settling into this mindset of doubt, the person is so afraid of misstepping that they pysch themselves out. The interesting thing is that the person who makes the decision has similar thoughts, but they have an underlying sense of responsibility that also brings to mind how many people are counting on them, how this decision is going to help, how important the right decision is and etc. Such thoughts can still make the moment daunting but it also instills the leader with a sense of purpose as well. That sense of purpose combined with the natural boldness of character work together to make the decision that most can’t.
This is a prized skill that all organizations look for. It is often cleverly threaded in the job descriptions, coded in phrases such as “take initiative” and “work without supervision.” Organizations need people who are capable of making decisions because those decisions ultimately keep companies moving forward in the right direction. And in times like these, leadership that is strong, bold and unafraid to make the big call is needed in a big way.