Jill Pett: Don't let an absence of decision making blunt your leadership

Don’t let an absence of decision making blunt your leadership

Of all the tools in the CEO’s toolkit, the ability to bring clarity and convictionto their decision making is often the most highly prized. Why? We all know what happens when decisions aren’t made; a vacuum appears, ambiguity spreads, inefficiencies emerge and the wider team becomes destabilised.


The problem of course, is that most decisions aren’t cut and dried. If they were, then there’d be no problem – and anyone might argue that they could be the CEO if it was that easy. In the real world, the CEO is having to deal with a multiplicity of variables that create an ever thickening fog around the clarity of thinking. The temptation then is to delay a decision and hope the fog clears to reveal a clear path ahead. In many cases it doesn’t and people within an organisation become disillusioned with the absence of direction – and many of the good ones will leave as a direct consequence.

Often, the heart of good decision making is around timing. It might be that an organisation is not quite ready to respond to external events but if the business doesn’t grasp the opportunity now, the stars may not align in future meaning the chance has gone. It takes courage to make that call and there are no guarantees that it will be right but if the CEO’s nous says that the moment is right, then the nettle should be grasped.

Decisive isn’t always the same as quick

A word of caution however: decisive decision making shouldn’t necessarily be conflated with quick decision making – they are not always the same thing. Sometimes circumstances will dictate the need for a quick decision – such as a corporate crisis – but the nature of today’s growing millennial workforce and changing business models means that a leader often has more to gain from engaging with the wider team to gather input and views.

That said, if a leader is delaying a decision to consult the business, they must actively communicate that decision to delay so people understand what is happening and the feared vacuum doesn’t appear.