Leading Clearly: Five Decisions Leaders Make Everyday

As published in the May 27th, 2011 edition of the Columbia Business Times

Leadership requires decision-making. There is just no way around it.

Leaders make hundreds and even thousands of decisions during the course of any given situation. Some of those decisions involve email, some are shared via telephone, and others are made on the spot in the heat of interactions, but they all have one thing in common — need.

The need for decisions comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. The decisions I’ll be sharing with you in this column might not be the kinds of decisions that first come to mind, but as a leader they are at the very core of everything you do. Because they are so fundamental, these decisions are often made subconsciously or by default, but they are being made. I’m simply bringing them to the forefront for your consideration so you can take charge and consciously consider them.

The following are five critical, life-determining decisions that cannot be initiated by anyone else; they start with you:

Decide to focus

Leaders can’t afford to be scattered in their approach or in their thinking. Learning to discipline yourself daily to stay on task and move yourself and your team toward its goals is immensely important.

Do you know the most important items to get completed today, the ones that will make the greatest impact on your week, month, quarter and year? This is a vital decision that must be made consciously every day because as your organization grows, so do the opportunities for distraction.

Decide to trust

Trust is the currency of all your relationships, from family and friends to team members and clients. All relationships are powered by the fuel of trust. When teams have high trust, they operate more efficiently and go faster. Leaders must decide to initiate trust every day to be trusted. How much trust are you granting to others?

Decide to look for the gold

Leaders must decide to practice the golden rule. It might not be the rule you’re familiar with; this golden rule states that there is gold inside each person. Each one of us is of great value with talent that must be tapped to reach our full potential. Leaders must decide to discover the gold in each person they meet and work with to reach higher levels of success.

Decide to engage and interact

Absentee leaders leave it to their followers to figure out direction and accomplish objectives completely on their own. You must decide, as a leader, to set the tone and regulate the environment. Your team must see you as a caring, participative member. You must decide to be more than just a part of the work; you need to be an integral part of the social fabric that is your team.

Decide to learn

Leaders understand they are always in a state of conscious incompetence. They realize there is much they don’t know but are always on the alert for knowledge that will equip them and make them better at what they do. Being a continuous learner is a choice, a choice that is absolutely necessary if one is to move toward mastery. Achieving mastery over your role includes submission to the idea that you must be in personal-growth mode continually. What have you decided to do that would cause you to grow on a daily basis?

These are not all the subtle decisions a leader needs make, but they are among the most important. My challenge to you is to consider each of them and begin to make them consciously. These decisions, if committed to daily, will help you become a far more effective and successful leader.

Tony Richards is a leader in the area of personal development and senior partner of Clear Vision Development Group, a Columbia-based leadership coaching and training firm. Visit them online at www.clearvisiondevelopment.com or follow Tony on Twitter @ tonyrichards4

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