No matter the industry, leadership is about making some tough decisions.
It’s about stepping up, weighing the options and making a captain’s call, but also appreciating you’re not always going to get it right.
I’ve also learnt there’s a process to that decision-making that involves listening more than you speak, understanding all facets of the business, and drawing on the strength of your team.
THE IMPORTANCE OF CLEAR DECISION MAKING
Pretty early in my career, I learnt clear decision-making is critical to good leadership, and it’s something that has stayed with me across a variety of industries.
So many times, you see people in leadership positions reluctant to make decisions in case they get it wrong.
Whether they’re worried about what their board of directors might say, or that someone will judge them harshly, a lack of decision-making has numerous negative knock-on effects:
- It creates a lack of direction for the company
- It fails to inspire respect and trust in the people who are supposed to be following you
- It disempowers your team
UNDERSTAND THE COALFACE
You are not equipped to make decisions until you understand the very basics of the business and the rudimentary steps involved.
This is something we’ve seen reflected time and time again in successful companies like Virgin, where former CEOs like John Borghetti and Paul Scurrah spent time in the cabins of the aircraft undertaking the tasks of the crew.
I draw on this every time I go into a new business by seeking to understand the basics and the factors influencing people within the business before making any decisions.
Only when you understand the experience of the customer and your team are you in a position to make an informed decision.
DRAW ON YOUR TEAM
In my real estate career, I’ve been fortunate to work with many talented individuals, including Matt Lahood, who taught me the process of real estate and the activities of real estate agents.
I’ve also worked with many others who have a unique insight into the industry and key skills they bring to the table.
These are the people I consult with when it comes time to make a decision, seeking their input and advice.
TWO EARS, ONE MOUTH
My mother had a great saying that you have two ears and one mouth, and you should use them proportionately.
When it comes to clear decision-making, it’s about listening twice as much as you speak before coming to a conclusion.
When you understand the business basics, have all the available information at hand, have consulted with your team of trusted experts and listened to their thoughts, the process of clear decision-making becomes a far easier feat.
But that doesn’t mean you will always get it right, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
YOU WILL NOT ALWAYS GET IT RIGHT
By nature, no leader is perfect.
Nor are the members of your management team or your staff.
Ideally, we make a decision based on the best available information at the time, and in the majority of cases, this will lead an organisation in the right direction.
But that’s not always the case.
Personally, one of the greatest leadership lessons I have learned is that you cannot get all of the decisions that you make right 100 per cent of the time.
You might make 10 decisions and perhaps get as many as three wrong.
It’s what happens then that matters more to your team and your growth as both an organisation and a leader.
Having the courage to make a mistake then learn from it doesn’t just empower you as a leader, it also empowers your team.
When staff see a leader prepared to take a calculated risk and learn from it, they are liberated to take their own decisive action in the interests of an organisation.
This creates a culture of consistent learning and growth where your team is empowered to test the boundaries with the aim of being better, being different and offering your customer more.
And ultimately, that’s the outcome any leader should hope to enjoy.