Leaders typically have a variety of experiences to draw upon when making decisions. Rarely will a great leader step into a position of authority without having first experienced many different roles, responsibilities, successes, and failures. Visualizing how one situation applies to another – dealing with the practical application of what has worked in the past and how it might “fit” into different situations – becomes the aptitude of a great leader. Good leaders may study and learn the theoretical (or previously proven) way to do things but they must make the transition from what SHOULD work to what DOES work if they hope to truly lead others. Great leaders not only apply their knowledge, they also expose others within their organization to new and different situations (and appropriate levels of responsibility), often allowing them to grow by failing (as long as it does not negatively and irreparably impact “innocents” or the organization), so that they, too, can develop a variety of experiences from which future independent decisions will be based.
Rather than brilliantly anticipating a solution before a problem arises so that negative disruption is minimized, great decisions are almost never made without careful analysis of conditions and the intentional utilization of “cause/effect” processes – a result of reacting to what has occurred within an environment that we are not used to by applying the experience we have gained elsewhere. While working to harness electricity, Edison stated that he had never failed but rather discovered a thousand solutions that did not work on his way to discovering the one that would. Leaders do not have all the answers but when moving forward it should be with confidence (having alternatives and options in mind) so that others will follow with faith rather than hold back due to fully justified trepidation.
Good leaders make decisions then move on to other challenges – rarely looking back, always looking forward. Great leaders make decisions and monitor how they play out while moving on to other opportunities – NEVER losing sight of their objective nor abandoning the process (EVEN IF others feel that a situation has been resolved). They recognize that today’s destination is but a launching point for tomorrow’s opportunities rather than the conclusion of a path that allows them to rest in their sense of accomplishment. They are willing to change their mind as factors and conditions change, recognizing that such mid-decision shifts can be (when properly explained and communicated) an indication of strength, intelligence, and good judgment rather than a show of weakness, indecision, or lack of knowledge. While good decision-making begins with the realization that a need for change exists, it cannot produce positive results until a problem has been identified then reasonable solutions are considered, tested, implemented, monitored, measured, and allowed to produce results.
Compound your impact exponentially by helping others grow – by engaging their minds (hopes and dreams) as fully as you engage your own then allowing them to act (as you monitor results and get out of the way of their progress). Great leaders think, consider, decide then intentionally act (while providing those around them with an opportunity to grow by allowing them to expand their own experiences) so that the organization, relationship, or situation will continue to thrive and grow. Unless (and until) you prepare others to do what you typically are expected to do you will never achieve more than you have accomplished nor realize anything that has not already been experienced by someone else.