On 11th July this year, in just 24 hours, UK politics saw an enormous and strong wave of decisiveness. The world watched as quickly and swiftly, decisions were made and communicated, so in the space of a day, it was decided that 48 hours later a new UK Prime Minister will be in place.
The result? Bold leadership. An attractive image and a galvanisation of markets and people. A brilliant example of just getting on with it. Harvard Business Review consistently shares that “decisiveness is one of the most vital success attributes for leaders in every position and every industry, but few understand where it comes from or how to find more of it”.
Why is it that some of us can make strong, bold and quick decisions, whilst at the same time some of us wobble, procrastinate and apparently delay or avoid just getting on with it?
One clear trend that we see in our research and work with clients is that there are values in people that can cause a challenge in their speed of decisiveness. Examples?
- iAM Collaboration values can create decision by committee – the need to get everyone on board and included can cause huge delays and frustrations with plans and projects.
- iAM Harmony values can result in people avoiding courageous conversations for fear of rocking the boat.
- iAM Caring values bring heart to the workplace and curiosity but over care can create an exaggerated view about consequences and can creates mountains out of molehills where problems may not exist in the first place!
In a 2010 study, Psychologist Georges Potworowski at the University of Michigan found that certain personality traits such as emotional stability, self-efficacy, social boldness, and focus of control predict why some people are naturally more decisive than others.
The study found that when faced with two equally attractive strategic options, timid, less emotionally stable leaders who fear upsetting anyone will let the debate drag on for weeks or months before selecting a compromised Frankenstein solution that both sides can merely tolerate. More decisively gifted mangers make it clear from the beginning that they will carefully consider both sides of the argument, but will ultimately choose what they judge to be best for their team.
NYU studies have discovered that when contemplating a decision to be made, virtually everyone will temporarily exhibit the same personality traits — neuroticism, low sense of control, pessimism — all linked to indecisiveness. But as soon as we make the decision and begin charting the steps for executing it, our brains automatically switch gears. All of the sudden, we feel confident, capable, and in control — the perfect mind set for behaving more decisively.
In other words, all of us have the potential to be decisive or indecisive. We just have to choose to choose!