Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in. Andrew Jackson
Leaders have a difficult time deciding when to listen, when to consider and when to act. While there are those that spend all of their time acting and little of their time deliberating, there does come that moment when you have to stop talking about it and start doing it. What gets in the way?
1. Desire for the perfect solution. Here’s a tip…there ain’t one. No matter how long you think about it, ask about it or mull it over, there is no way of knowing whether an action you take today will turn out exactly as you plan. There is a difference between an excellent implementation and a perfect one. Do the best that you can do at this moment and stop worrying about whether or not you are doing everything. It’s a pretty good bet you’re not, but if you don’t do ANYTHING, then you are leaving the outcome to chance.
2. Desire to consider all options. Empowering people means giving them an opportunity to have an impact on the direction and actions you chose. That means you need to listen and consider the options that are presented. There are always variations of an idea and often there are tons of opinions. Decide and communicate early on the amount of time you will leave open for debate or you’ll never get anything done.
3. Desire for total buy-in. It is indeed important that those who will be affected by an action have an opportunity to get on board with the action before it is taken. Sometimes, this isn’t possible either because the situation requires quick action or because the perceived negative impact of an action keeps people from supporting it. While selling an idea up front can make change easier, don’t look at the notion of building support as only a pre-action activity. Actions often have to go from theory to practice for people to understand what is truly needed of them and what the outcome might be. Make an effort to get support at the beginning, but keep working on building that support as the action takes place.
Leaders make things happen. Great leaders do so with consideration of the consequences and engagement of their followers. There is likely something on your desk this week on which you need to act but you haven’t, perhaps for one of the reasons mentioned above. If that’s the case, evaluate where you stand and, if it’s time to make things happen, do it now.