By Chuck Alvey
Indecision is the most common challenge facing the chief executives. We start with a faulty premise: “This situation is different.” We back that up with the even weaker defense, “My business is unique.” Of course it is. And, of course it is not.
While every executive and business is unique the commonality of decision-making is not. In my experience – my own and working with other leaders – we already know what we should do. Instinctively or rationally all business decisions share a need for common sense and clear data. So why do we fail to decide so often for so long? For reasons that are anything but unique.
Let’s narrow it down to personnel decisions; among the most frequent I deal with. Many executives are quick to hire yet very slow to fire. Ironically we are not always sure we are hiring the right person yet make that decision rapidly. Even when we know we should terminate an employee relationship we often delay that decision, sometimes far longer than we should. How do we know? Because in almost every instance things improve after the change, even for the separated employee.
What makes many people-related decisions so hard is something I call “executive isolationism.” It truly IS lonely at the top. Alone, such a decision is daunting. We ask, “How will I get the work done?” “How will other employees react?” “What if I get sued?” “Are there extenuating circumstances?”
Experience teaches that executives need “isolation relief.” Ideally you should find a peer group of co-equals. Not co-workers. Not direct reports. Not board members. In a peer group of other executives who are not personally involved, instincts and information can get truly extrapolated. Peers can ask the right questions and press you for objective answers. Peer executives bring years of individual and collective experience, insight, critical curiosity and a true sense of accountability like no others can bring to the table. That accountability is vital because in every situation a decision – right or wrong, or degrees in between – must be made.
There are no right or wrong answers. There are only choices. You must make those difficult choices. An executive peer group will help you not be alone.