Why the Best Leaders Act Swiftly and Decisively

Most leaders are girded with confidence, even when the odds are stacked against them. Part and parcel to elevating to the ranks of leadership, those who direct, steer or otherwise perform as bosses to individuals and teams, must prove their capacity to lead, with authority and clarity.

Decision-Making Asserts Value When Battling the Competition

One way they prove abilities in clarity is through swift decision-making. For example, perhaps your company has been alerted to a chief competitor making a market push through aggressive social media strategies. This new awareness shines a light on the fact that your company has been behind-the-times in regard to social media marketing.

Not only is the competitor making a strong marketing move, but their market share gains also are becoming your losses.

While your budget may not immediately accommodate hiring a full-time social media strategist, it is feasible to allocate part of the operating budget to a consultant. Maybe even, you determine to take a calculated risk, borrowing funds previously allotted to product development or service initiatives. You justify the reallocation by shifting the priority; you base this on shifts in the market.

[Related: How to Deal with Employee Poaching from the Competition]

Calculated Risks Are Underpinned by Strategic Short-Term Decisions

This is a risk with potential ripple effects, because if the social media initiative bombs, you’ve also got the residual losses of having pulled value from product and service goals.

With enough data to convince you the gap in your marketing is real and justified, however, you reach out for consultant referrals. By narrowing it down to a short-list of one or two trusted candidates, you interview, determine the best fit, and act.

A one-month trial partnership enables the social media strategist to get on their feet and prove initial traction. It also allows time for you both to establish expectations, get a further sense of fit and see initial, albeit early results.

The point here is that as a leader, you didn’t wait until all conditions were perfect to act; i.e., you didn’t wait for the budget review next quarter or next year to act on the decision to build out a social media presence. You didn’t spend months analyzing data and interviewing the perfect candidate, with the perfectly laid out, indisputable plan.

You realized that some decisions are based on urgency and riddled with ambiguity.

And, if the decision to invest in a social media maven to help jump-start and/or take your digital marketing to the next level leads to improved market share and revenue, the company’s bottom line benefits. If the company’s bottom line benefits, chances are your employees also reap value. This could mean salary increases, new positions being created to build out the digital marketing channel, new product development opportunities and thus increased job security, and so on. 

Saying Yes to Employee Proposals Spurs Performance

Another example of swift decision making and action applies to interactions with your direct reports. The leaders whose reputations sustain often are those who are decisive in responding to direct reports’ ideas, input and proposals.

Assuming you were confident in your decision to hire certain employees means you should likewise be confident in that employee’s ideas. However, if you consistently hem and haw at the ideas they present, rarely ever committing a ‘yes’ decision, then the morale, and ultimately performance of the employee begins to falter.

[Related: 8 Employee Engagement Templates to Improve Your Employer Brand]

So, not only might you miss out on a new way to sell services or widgets, build a more diverse customer base and/or create a more resonating advertising campaign, but you also will dampen the enthusiasm of a potential key player.

Conversely, by deciding to trust your direct reports, you not only increase the potential for organizational growth through the intellectual capital of well-vetted staff, but you also unencumber your own role. This opens the way to incubate and act upon new ideas of your own. In other words, your decisiveness can expand ideas and opportunities for innovation on several levels.

And, with the fluidity of the economy, unremitting competition, and the prevalence of mergers and acquisitions, it behooves leaders to be vigilant about innovating. This requires deciding, ahead of time, that you will trust who you hired and act on their recommendations, as you can. 

Swift, Logical Decision-Making Can Elevate Your Reputation

Moreover, according to Jane Bentson in the article, Decisiveness. Why It’s So Important for Leadership Credibility, “A quick and well thought through decision backed by logic, gut instinct and taking personal responsibility for whatever the outcome will be, can boost our professional standing in the eyes of those around us.”

Bentson further quotes a study of 6,500 workers that “found that decisiveness was one of the top three skill sets that make the biggest impact on helping leaders to build credibility.”  

Workers want to follow actual leaders: those who cut back the brush to make way for their teams to do their best work. They want bosses who say yes, with vigor and then stand behind them, regardless of the outcome. They want their projects to whirl and their ideas to be stirred. They want a leader whom they admire, someone they aspire to be, and a professional decision-maker, with the strength to sail ahead, versus holding the ship at anchor.