Part of what makes a strong leader is their ability to face fear. There are many levels to fear – fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, and even the fear of death for themselves or their team. Fear manifests itself in different ways but for many people it leads to a lack of confidence or a decline in ownership of a problem. It is the fear of the consequences and the fear of the unknown that makes most people hesitate. A leader has the same internal thoughts but instead of feeling paralyzed by the consequences or the unknown, they take the risk of moving forward. The great leaders are those that can quickly analyze a situation and make the best decision possible at the time.
With the economy the way it is today, making the ‘wrong’ decision is a big deal that can affect someone’s employment and in turn, their family. Within the military, making decisions may cost someone their life. This is a huge responsibility that is not to be taken lightly however it should also be embraced for what leadership can achieve too. Think about where the world would be today if Harry Truman had not made the tough choices he did to end World War II? What about the choices Bill Gates and Steve Jobs made for their teams to move technology forward? Not all decisions are bad but there has to be ownership of the choices to move in the intended direction.
It’s easy to say ‘let’s go left’ or ‘let’s move to the right’ but then living that decision and taking on that choice is what leaders must do. The biggest thing for leaders though is to be able to handle the choice if it is the wrong one. Admit mistakes, adjust to the outcomes and correct the course of action. The important thing is leaders learn from mistakes and need to share that knowledge with others. A leader will not always have the right answer or want to make the tough decisions but the true character of a leader is shown during those situations.
– Lori Buresh
CEO, The Professional Development Team