It has been said there is one big difference between management and leadership. Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right things.
Have you ever asked yourself this question? What IS the right answer anyway? For people in leadership roles, you are looked upon for the right answer. You better be able to deliver.
However, there are times when the right answer seems so hard to find. Here are some things to consider so that you, as a leader, can do more to find the “right” answer.
Situational problem solving seems to be popular. In one case, the right answer might be green, but in a different situation, the answer is red. Both pose what seems like the same sets of facts and circumstances which should lead to the same answer, but you will see decision makers opting to let the outcome be different because of the audience that is involved. If the stakeholders are different, the answer gets shifted despite the facts and details bearing on the matter.
The idea of situational problem solving is often referred to in morality debates. There are those who get very excited about certain social issues, making claims for absolute answers involving right from wrong (think gun control, abortion, legalized marihuana, etc.). Yet when it is their family in jeopardy, they choose to go another route.
I contend the truly right answer needs to fit all situations. Circumstance shouldn’t change what was decided as to right or wrong.
The Leaders Curse
Anyone who is deemed a leader, whether at work, at home, or in the community, is expected to come up with answers. Those who are following the leader expect the answers to be “right”.
For the person who sits in the leadership chair, the pressure can be intense. If you are genuinely committed to quality leadership, the power of the position will not be enough. Power alone can literally dictate decisions. However, leaders who embrace the higher calling of duty and seek to make right decisions will suffer the burden of the process to get there.
Perhaps your style is to seek counsel from those around you. I am a big fan of hiring smart people, then getting out of their way. Yet when the final decision is needed, it rests on the leader’s shoulders to make the call.
Once all the input has been reviewed and processed, the right answer is yours to make. What you decide is right is the way things will go.
Oh my, but what is RIGHT?
I never thought about being right in this exact context before. I participate in an organization of highly regarded business leaders. They each have their own resume of incredible accomplishments. Internal meetings with this group are lively and interesting, to say the least.
When I see discussions in the group unfold, there is, on one hand, amazing thought that goes into the answers. So many different angles get presented and explored.
On the other hand, there is the occasional hard stand that insists their individual answer is best (and the only answer). When this happens, the group often tables discussion for a further review. One could argue that lack of consensus is a natural outcome when a group of A++ personalities joust it out, debating the right answer for a question.
The bottom line is this; right is totally a function of the view from the first chair. The type A++ who has been accustomed to making final decisions may not be able to play nicely in a group of similar personalities when the authority is spread across the group and not centered in one seat.
My point is simply this…. the “right” answer may surprise you.
Leaders: How Do You Find Right?
When the responsibility of leadership falls on you, likely you will seek to pull together all your experience, knowledge, wisdom, and technical ability to make good decisions; the right ones. The process is different for everyone.
Think about your own decision-making process. Do you make lists of pros and cons? Do you draw a grid? Do you immediately turn to advisors? Or friends? Where and how do you decide “right?”
How often do you rely on your gut? I hear that a lot. Truthfully, it works. The greater your experience in leadership roles, the greater may be the accuracy of your gut. I see this being true more often than not in the leaders who fully appreciate the role of leader. The key factor though is whether your gut is objective, not subjective. Unfair biases can misguide the gut reaction to finding right.
Managers who are first starting out lack the benefit of seasoned experience. Their gut reaction may be founded on emotion not reality. The experience becomes a teacher, but not by itself.
Experience is not a good teacher. Evaluated experience is. ~John Maxwell
As you gain experience by exercising your leadership decisions making, your sense of right and wrong decisions will get fine-tuned. If you are just now starting out in leadership, keep notes for yourself. You will revisit facts and circumstances from time to time. You will be able to gain strength of conviction through repeated use of your choices.
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