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Decisiveness is not necessarily immediacy

I spent a weekend several years ago with several of my Marine buddies hunting and fishing in Idaho. We had a number of discussions about leadership and what we've learned over the years. In one discussion about decisiveness, I remarked that I will frequently say, "If you need a decision right now, I will make it. But if you give me a night to think about it, I'll probably give you a better decision tomorrow."

I think decisiveness is a trait all leaders must possess. Indecision can be a morale-killer to those we lead. However, as I look back over a career of making decisions, I have realized that too often I imposed an artificial timeline on myself in the name of being decisive. And many of those decisions were not the best ones.

Decisiveness is not necessarily immediacy. Some decisions must be made immediately and a leader must use the best available information in the moment, make a decision, and live with the consequences. But most situations do not require immediate decisions.

There is often great clarity that is gained by the time and space afforded by a night to ponder the issue. I also find that it allows me to take all or most of the emotion out of the decision and to better articulate the "why" behind my reasoning for making it.


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