Tuesday, February 17, 2009

RE Comment on Decide, Act, Lead

I appreciate the comments on my last article and thank you for your taking the time to share your thoughts.

I'm not sure that we lose anything in labeling someone who saves lives in the line of duty as a hero, and I certainly think society benefits more from looking up to such individuals then from others. I certainly am willing to concede that folks who do their duty rushing into burning buildings to rescue others are heroes, for example, thought that too is their job. I understand your frustration, though I think that when the effort results in saved lives, we have already reached an acceptable distinction from the rest of our day-to-day existence.

On the question of decision-making however, I do differ with you. Decision-making is a key element of leadership. Ability in decision-making, from what I have observed over time, and through research, only comes from two things, inextricably tied together: experience, and consideration. Experience is easy, or, at least, straight-forward: it is 'being there.' But, being there alone is not enough. Both the Bat-boy and the Manager have the same experience: they sit on the side-line and watch 162 games. But, the Manager, who, granted has more experience, considers what he has seen, he 'chews' on it, he thinks about what decisions he made, what worked and why, what didn't work and why not. And with that consideration his judgment, and his decision-making improve. Great leaders have that, poor and mediocre leaders do not. This is the real value of experience, not the simple 'I was there,' but the much more complex 'I was there and this is what I learned.'

While no leader has ever had a perfect record, great leaders are always great decision-makers. The ones who fail to make decisions, or fail to make good decisions, inevitably fail. Ones who have no experience, and hence no developed decision-making skills, will, even under the best of times, take several years to develop those skills and then perhaps become great leaders. But without the experience of having made decisions and considered the outcomes and evaluated those decisions it is a difficult process at best. There are many leaders who make lousy decisions, and because of that are not great leaders, no matter how great their vision or ability to inspire.

I will expand this discussion at a later date to include the key elements of leadership.


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