Great Leaders Decide!

The mark of a great leader is consistently being a great decider!

When you think about it, all business activity really comes down to two simple things: Making decisions and executing on decisions.

Decisive leaders choose a direction, build buy-in, communicate that direction, and motivate people to achieve a result.

In fact, making good decisions is the most important thing we can do. According to the Harvard Business Review (HBR), “It drives 95% of business performance and half of employee engagement!”

Yet the typical business leader delays significant decisions longer than necessary. As Gino Wickman, author of TRACTION, says, “The only reason you have a problem is that you haven’t made a decision.”

Being indecisive slows the company’s growth, causing missed opportunities and employee frustration that drives turnover and disengagement. The longer we take to decide, the longer our people continue in the wrong direction or just stand still.

Even if the results of a decision are less than desirable, we will come out knowing what works and what doesn’t, so we are able to make better decisions in the future. Keep in mind that most people overestimate the risk of making a bad decision and underestimate the risk of inaction.

Take it from Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, who left a lucrative Wall Street job, moved to Seattle and launched the online store out of his garage, forever changing the way people shop. A strong decision-making culture is credited to the company’s success.

He advocates the 70% Rule, which comes out of the military: “Most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70% of the information you wish for. If you wait for 90%, in most cases, you’re probably being slow. Being wrong can be less costly than you think, whereas being slow is going to be expensive for sure.”

If learning to make decisions effectively is a key to propelling a company into a new level of growth, then how do we build our decision-making muscle?

In DECIDE: The One Common Denominator of All Great Leaders, Gino Wickman shares four discoveries on how to make better decisions and a simple process for doing so. Click on the link above for the entire e-book download. A short summary is described below.

The Four Discoveries

1. You must have clarity of vision. In the EOS system, your vision is captured in the VTO (Vision/Traction Organizer) – your high-level strategic plan. The VTO gets everyone on the same page, all rowing in the same direction.

Decision-making is accelerated when keeping a careful eye toward strategic alignment with your organization. In contrast, making decisions that aren’t aligned with the VTO tends to take longer and lead to conflicting priorities, misallocation of resources, and poor outcomes.

The Vision section describes who you are (Core Values), why you exist and what you’re great at (Core Focus), where you want to go (10-Year Target), how you’re going to get there (Marketing Strategy) and what the business looks like longer-term (3-Year Picture).

That’s all well and good, but if you can’t execute really well, then your vision doesn’t matter. As Gino says, “Vision without traction is hallucination.” That’s why the Traction section of the VTO delineates how to execute the vision through a 1-Year Plan, quarterly Rocks and by solving issues on an Issues List.

2. Good decision-making requires clarity and confidence. While successful leaders of entrepreneurial organizations must build their ability to execute efficiently, they also need to build the ability to stop and think. Great leaders have a regular practice of taking “Clarity Breaks” – a regular time out of the day-to-day chaos in the office to think and get clear. Clarity facilitates better decisions, enhances confidence and improves our reputation as leaders.

3. You must avoid ten bad decision-making habits. There are ten pitfalls that can impede good decision-making. Even if you fall into only one of these obstacles, decision-making can be compromised. Click on DECIDE, pgs 24-31, for “The 10 Commandments of Good Decision Making.” Avoid all ten!

4. Not all good decisions are made at the same speed. Great teams are always working toward understanding and supporting each other in the pursuit of their goals. The KOLBE is a profiling tool that helps individuals and teams understand their instinctual and predictable tendencies when taking action to accomplish goals at work. It’s also used for making better hiring decisions and for building healthy, functional, cohesive teams who have better alignment – thus accelerating the decision-making process. See

The Process

1. Creating an Issues List. Unresolved issues take time and energy. The solution starts with the discipline of generating an Issues List. Ultimately, issues and opportunities become normal in an open and honest culture of trust that allows people to feel comfortable calling them out.

2. Implementing the Issues Solving Track. Rather than discussing, discussing, discussing without deciding, follow a simple tool called IDS (Identify, Discuss, Solve) to resolve issues and make better decisions.

How we approach decision-making can be the difference between our company hitting a ceiling or being propelled into a new level of growth. Running your company decisively with your vision at the forefront increases the chance that your business dreams will become reality – with YOU running your business rather than your business running you.

So read the e-book, DECIDE, apply its wisdom, and make better and faster decisions!


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