Courage or process: Your decision!
Recently, I have been watching an organization in transformation attempting to make significant decisions. Decisions that will impact the direction and effectiveness this 80 year old entity. At the core of this transformation is the competing and oft times conflicting interests of two groups. Add to this a new leader, coming to the organization within the last year and half, put in the position of having to mediate the years old disagreement.
Leadership requires that we make difficult decisions that come to us at a cost. According to John Maxwell, knowing the right decision is easy, making the right decision is hard and I would suggest that living the right decision is hardest. Having courage is not the lack of fear but rather the belief that there is something more important than fear. Having courage to make a decision, that you believe in your heart is the best decision for the organization, is the onus of all great leaders. This is one of the reasons that they say that it is lonely at the top.
As an engineer by trade, I love processes. Processes give definition and order. They give things predictability. They make failures easier to troubleshoot and correct. In an organization, while processes can help the organization avoid the perception of bias and favoritism, they also minimize accountability and responsibility.
We have all seen it, whether it is in a small, closely held company, or in an institution or organization, the leader has a plan in mind, knows what they want to do but doesn’t have the courage to do it. They hide behind boards and committees. They stock these entities with people who share a similar mindset and people that they can trust or worse yet, intimidate. The process of having a board or committee dictate decisions suplantes honest organizational communication and information sharing if we permit them to. Allowing a board or committee “make the decision” alleviates the leader from having personal responsibility for the decision.
Ezra 10:4 Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it.”
Organizational transformation is never an easy thing to accomplish. Identifying cultural barriers and communication channel diffciencies are among the challenges. However, as leaders we are expected to have the ability to listen to all of the input, weigh all the pros and cons, map out in our minds the potential outcomes, and then stand courageously, in front of the whole organization, announce the decision and live the decision.
The organization that I mentioned at the top, has begun a process of fact finding and opinion gathering. The facts and the opinions haven’t changed much in the last 5 – 10 years, only the leaders have. The organization hasn’t been able to or willing to make a decision on how it will transform in the past because the committees (the process) couldn’t make everyone happy, no Kumbaya moment. Let’s hope that this time the leader has the courage to make a transformational decision, and will live the decision.
To be a leader you must be willing and capable of making the tough decisions. You can not shirk that duty and remain effective. You must accept personal ownership and responsibility for the situation. Whether you hide behind the process or make the decision yourself, the impact of the decision will follow you as you move forward, like it or not. So, courage Camile, it’s your decision to make!