Making the Best Decisions Requires Acceptance, Courage, and Communication
I was recently involved in a very engaging talk with Kenny Moore, author of The CEO and the Monk: One Company’s Journey to Profit and Purpose. He was talking about leadership and the nature of the decisions that leaders make. First line managers/supervisors face problems, and they are challenged to resolve them with solutions. As they move up the ladder of responsibility, however, leaders face dilemmas. Dilemmas are challenges that are complex and usually cannot be resolved as neatly as the problems they once endeavored to resolve. The resolution of dilemmas, then, is movement; movement toward improved effectiveness, even though all of the problems are not resolved.
Does this sound familiar? It does to me and to my clients. Very often, we want to find the solution and we cannot pick it off the solution tree because it’s not there. It’s just not that simple. More accurately, it’s not as simple as we’d like it to be. We have to look somewhere else for it. Some of the best leaders I know recognize that the best decision- the best option- is less than ideal and they accept that as the reality of the situation.
Not only does this type of leadership require acceptance, it also requires courage. David Dotlich, Peter Cairo and Steven Rhinesmith talk about this in their book Head, Heart and Guts: How the World’s Best Companies Develop Complete Leaders. Part of effective leadership is courageously moving forward relying upon decisions that will not satisfy everyone, decisions that are not tidy solutions and might not be popular with all stakeholders.
Managing these challenging dilemmas requires a steady flow of clear communication and healthy relationships, so as to promote alignment with decisions and minimize misunderstanding. It also creates an environment more conducive to promoting more informed decision-making in the future. Staying on top of this communication and tending important relationships can be the most challenging part of the process for many leaders, in my experience.
These are the challenges that many leaders face, and the higher they go in an organization the more challenging the process becomes; decisions and their resolution become more complex, more courage is required to act, and there is more pressure to communicate and nurture relationships more effectively. It is no wonder that leadership can feel so demanding- it is.