Effective Leaders Make Decisions

A decision is a judgment. It is a choice between alternatives. It is rarely a choice between right and wrong. It is at best a choice between “almost right” and “probably wrong”—but much more often a choice between two courses of action neither of which is provably more nearly right than the other.
Peter Drucker

One of the things I never anticipated as a Bible College student and as a young 21 year old entering the ministry was the enormous amount of decisions I would have to make. Small decisions based on what type of paper to use for a craft, to large ones such as how to advise people facing a crisis.

The problem with most decisions is what Peter touches on in this first quote from his book “The Effective Executive”. 

Most decisions you will have to make in life are not clear. They are not right vs. wrong they are not good vs. bad. They are usually between almost right and probably right. In leading others you need experience, intuition and trust. Experience and intuition combine to help you get things almost right most of the time. Trust in your team and ultimately in Christ will help you make good decisions most of the time.

Executives are not paid for doing things they like to do. They are paid for getting the right things done—most of all in their specific task, the making of effective decisions.
Peter Drucker

Leading is easy deciding is hard. Everyone wants to be a leader and to some extent everyone is a leader.

What makes you effective in whatever environment you lead in is how effectively do you make decisions. Effective leaders not only make effective decisions but they train others to do the same. Decision making that is shared is always more effective than decision processes that are exclusive and ideas that are horde.

It becomes clear that a decision requires courage as much as it requires judgment. There is no inherent reason why medicines should taste horrible—but effective ones usually do. Similarly, there is no inherent reason why decisions should be distasteful—but most effective ones are.

Peter Drucker

If you lead long enough you will find yourself making lots of difficult decisions. I am not a type A personality so making hard decisions are not fun for me. I have had to make my fair share of difficult decisions over the past few years and many of them of been positive some don’t seem to be as positive. I thought I would share a few different keys to making good decision in hard situations.

1. Know the bible. The bible is full of wisdom for you, but more than that, it is a lens to see the world. When you understand your bible many things that seem hard from the outside are made clear by submitting your life to the Word of God.

2. Pray often – Prayer is us exchanging our weakness for his strength. You want strength to make good decisions? Pray. Exchange your lack for his sufficiency.

3. Listen to those closet to you. They care about you enough to speak the truth.

4. Listen to those who gain nothing from your relationship with them they are often the most honest. Don’t dismiss people because they are “strange” or are on the cultural fringes. They have nothing to gain or lose by speaking out so they often do so with much more honesty and clarity than we give them credit for.

5. Give the credit take the blame. No matter how a decision turns out. Always take the blame and give the credit to others.

No matter how many decisions you have made that have not turned out well. Learn from those mistakes embrace them and keep going keep deciding keep glorifying God in all things.

Leader be proactive

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One of the biggest mistakes leaders can make is to wait to be told something. You will never affect change by waiting for change to happen to you. When leaders do decided to do something what they ask often is “What do you want me to do?” If you want to grow in your ability to lead others don’t ask “what do you want me to do?” Ask “What can I contribute?”

Executives who do not ask themselves, “What can i contribute?” are not only likely to aim too low, they are likely to aim at the wrong things. Above all, they may define their contribution too narrowly. – Peter Drucker

The one thing that will instantly make you a better leader.

time

If you study leadership or you lead in any capacity you should have a drive to be better at what you do. In meeting leaders from around the country I find some leaders that are super sharp and are knocking it out of the park then there are others who are struggling then there is a third leader who thinks they are killing it and they just aren’t. There are many factors that contribute to each of these states of leadership but the older I get and the more leaders I meet that fall into each of these three categories what I find is they have one thing in common.

How they view time. How a leader uses their time and the time of those they lead will tell you much about their short therm and longer term effectiveness as a leader.  Peter Drucker says it this way in his chapter entitled “Know Thy Time” from his book “The Effective Executive.”

Everything requires time. It is the one truly universal condition. All work takes place in time and uses up time. Yet most people take for granted this unique, irreplaceable, and necessary resource. Nothing else, perhaps, distinguishes effective executives as much as their tender loving care of time.

Effectiveness is not doing more or doing things faster it’s doing what’s most appropriate with the time that you have. It’s understanding your time and the time of others and thinking what is the best use of my time and the time of others. Leaders that are effective start with their time (measuring it and recording it)  then move on to tasks. Leaders who struggle with effectiveness don’t know what tasks that they need to do and therefore don’t use their for the right things –  this leader is in a good place because he knows he needs help. Lastly leaders who think they are effective and aren’t are the most dangerous because they mistake business as effectiveness. They think they are leading well and in the midst of the flurry of activity they produce they end up frustrating themselves and those they lead because they don’t see lasting change or effectiveness from all their efforts. These leaders know what tasks need to be done but don’t manage or see their own time as the valuable commodity that it is as a result they overextend themselves and waste the time of those they lead.

If you want to lead well you have to first manage your time well because if you can’t manage your time well you can’t manage others. If you lead others you have a responsibility to manage your time so that you can be free to help others with their problems and help them see the need to use their time to most effectively mange problems. One of the things I constantly tell our team is we are patient with people and efficient with problems never the other way around. Leaders that think they are busy and don’t manage their time well are typically efficient with people.

If you lead anyone on any level here is a question you need to ask from time to time. “What do i do that wastes your time without contributing to your effectiveness?”

We all want to make a difference. We all want our work to matter. We as leaders at every level and in every field need to remember that we are not the masters of our own fate we are stewards of the grace that we have been given. Love how
1 Peter 4:11 puts it “whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Time is the scarcest resource, and unless it is managed, nothing else can be managed. The analysis of one’s time, moreover, is the one easily accessible and yet systematic way to analyze one’s work and to think through what really matters in it. – Peter Drucker

Want to be a better leader instantly? Manage your time. Let’s use the time the God has given us to be as effective as we can where He has placed us.

Why many leaders don’t make a difference

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One of the blessings of working in the same church for 17 years is I can see where I made a difference in my church and were I have fallen short. I have many times operated in an environment where the lack of organizational clarity lead me down a path that wasn’t helpful. I have also contributed to the lack of organizational clarity for others. For years I had a very narrow understanding of what my job was. I felt that it was to create fun places for kids and teens to learn. That is a part of my job a very small part.

4 tips on getting the right things done everyday

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In this chapter Drucker explains the one thing that is universal is time. He says it is a scarce resource unless we mange it. The result of not managing it is nothing else in our life can be managed. We as leaders, parents and pastors have to figure out how much time we have so that we do in the time we have what really matters in this life and the next.

Everything requires time. It is the one truly universal condition. All work takes place in time and uses up time. Yet most people take for granted this unique, irreplaceable, and necessary resource. Nothing else, perhaps, distinguishes effective executives as much as their tender loving care of time.

Drucker, Peter F.  The Effective Executive  HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.