Ever been frozen?
No, not the Disney movie. The feeling. Frozen in time, unable to act, unable to move in any direction. Like that terrifying moment when the computer screen goes still and your mouse dances frantically across the mouse pad with no visible effect.
You’re supposed to make a decision, but you’re frozen. Everybody’s looking to you. You’re the leader – you’ve got the vision, you may even hold the position. You need to decide.
We talk about leaders needing to know their authentic selves, about leaders as team builders, servant leaders, leaders as visionaries, leaders as coaches and mentors. But embedded in all of these is a basic ability that is sometimes passed over: leaders make decisions.
Even experienced leaders know that freezing-up feeling of indecisiveness, but the best of them can conquer it because they’re clear on the fundamentals of how their decisions will be made.
Gino Wickman tackles this in his e-book, Decide! The One Common Denominator of All Great Leaders. Wickman talks about what keeps people from making decisions, what knowledge & traits are needed for good decision-making to happen, and provides a step-by-step process for dealing with issues that require decisions.
Not surprisingly, part of the message goes back to knowing who you are as a leader – knowing your core values and the core focus of your work, as a framework to help you measure the impact of your decision.
That framework also includes knowing your long-term and short-term goals, and knowing the needs and expectations of your customer – or your audience– or whomever will be impacted by your decisions.
As a leader, deeply knowing these framework elements provides a base, but it’s not enough. Wickman pinpoints more elements that are necessary for leadership decision-making:
- The need for clarity and confidence. “Pausing on a regular basis allows you to block out all of the noise that’s clouding your judgment and creating murkiness. In this state, you’ll be able to not only think better but also listen to your gut,” says Wickman.
- The need to follow ten decision-making commandments. These look like common sense, but can catch us up all the time – notions such as, “Thou Shalt Not Rule By Consensus,” “Thou Shalt Not Try to Solve Them All,” and “Thou Shalt Not Be a Weenie.”
- The need to understand and accept that some decisions may take more time than others – something Wickman calls “the most important discovery I’ve made.”
We may feel we have all these elements in place, but Wickman understands that – especially in that moment of frozenness – it still helps to have a go-to process to rely on. Here’s where he defines a key component of his Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS): the Issues Solving Track.
The Issues Solving Track is an easy-to-remember three-step process: Identify, Discuss, Solve, or IDS. Decision-making comes down to these steps.
- Identify the real issue – which may or may not be what you thought it was, so it’s crucial to take the time that’s needed on this step.
- Discuss the issue – but nothing gets spoken more than once, and turf-protection is out of bounds…and watch out for tangents!
- Solve the issue – come to a decision, own the decision, and be rid of the issue.
Leaders make decisions every day. We can all get better at it, and reduce the number of frozen moments. What else has helped you to unfreeze?