Without a doubt, the toughest decisions I have ever made were in combat as a Navy SEAL. And those who have served know that the impact of those decisions can last a lifetime.
Unfortunately, making tough decisions amidst chaos takes practice. In the past, I had a tendency to avoid conflict, put off making difficult decisions and even sugarcoat reality. Those behaviors are of little use when holding a position of leadership.
My experiences in the military, prior to becoming an entrepreneur, have helped me formulate a better perspective on decision-making. But it is never easy. My “wisdom” as a leader has primarily come from getting feedback from a great team, persistence, and learning from failure. And my training is never complete.
Now, I make a rigorous effort to face the tough decisions head on, before they become even larger obstacles. Here are some tips for being a more decisive leader. These go for leaders at all levels, not just at the top.
In the absence of orders, take charge. A great line from the Navy SEAL Creed referencing leadership and decision-making at all levels says, “In the absence of orders, I will take charge, lead my teammates and accomplish the mission. I lead by example in all situations.” When tackling the challenges of leadership within an organization, you won’t always have someone there to guide every decision. Use the information at hand to make the best possible decision and adjust accordingly.
Stop avoiding those difficult conversations. This was always a big obstacle for me. As entrepreneurs, we have enough anxiety and stress as is. Then as our companies grow, the obstacles become even bigger and our decisions have greater consequences. Whether it’s your business partner, a direct report, or even your manager, it doesn’t do any good to put off much needed conversations. When we do that, things fester and get even worse. Don’t put it off. It won’t fix things and it’s not fair to the other person.
Make that decision you should have made months ago.