Being courageous with your decision making is key to adaptative leadership which I have been writing about for the last couple of weeks. Easy to say, yet you and I both know that courageous decisions are full of risk and opportunity. Will it work? What will it cost me? What unforeseen problems am I creating? Yet, the need requires the risk, or the opportunity is simply too significant to pass up.
Take the manufacturers turning to supply plastic face masks with 3D printers or the ones now producing much needed medical equipment. They are practicing adaptive leadership, putting trust in their people to come up with the answers through experimentation and hard work. The risk is they may fail, making a potentially bad situation worse. The opportunity is significant. They can help save lives, and they may save their business along with countless jobs.
Courage is easy to see when people like members of our defence force or emergency services put their lives on the line for us. Fortunately, they are trained to make courageous decisions in a fast paced and often chaotic environment. They are given a simple set of rules based on years and years of experience.
For the rest of us, operating in unchartered waters, we don’t have a set of tried and tested rules. So, let me share with you these three tips on courageous decision making:
Conversations – You must have the difficult conversations now. Don’t put them off. Whether they be about pay cuts for staff or about managers giving up control.
Voices – You must listen to the voices from outside your trusted inner circle. Your inner circle has never been through something quite like this. They may not have the right answers. Listen to the dissenters and work out how you can experiment and test their views against the views of your inner circle.
Risks – You must take calculated risks. The same rules apply as always. You never bite off more than you can chew, unless you have no other choice. And a bad risk assessment is worse than no risk assessment as our intuitive judgement is better. So do your risk assessment with the right people, with the best available information and take the time to get it right.
Stay safe and move quickly.