Perry Noble, Lead Pastor at NewSpring Church, raises this question:

What is the one thing that holds most leaders (and the organizations they lead) back?  

His answer is, “The unwillingness to make the really difficult decisions.”

Let me expand on this a bit. 

Leadership is about leading and leading involves making decisions.  The higher you are in a leadership position, the more may be riding on every decision you make.

I believe that what is at stake in not being willing to make difficult decisions is fear!  That’s it…FEAR!

  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of being wrong
  • Fear of loosing credibility
  • Fear of what others might think of your decision
  • Fear of looking like a fool and loosing face before your team, coworkers and boss
  • Fear of loosing your job
  • Fear of not being able to find another job
  • Fear that God won’t take care of you if you lose your job

I collect leadership definitions like some people collect stamps or coins. One of my more humorous ones is“A leader is a person who makes decisions, some of which are right.”

Except for Jesus, there has never been, or ever will be, a leader who makes perfect decisions. It is probably true that we learn more from our failures than our successes. Making a poor decision (which you certainly will do as you lead) is simply an opportunity to grow and learn. We need to work on creating cultures that allow for failure and learn from them

As Perry said, “Most leaders know the decisions that need to be made, the hard conversations that need to be had, the programs that need to be done away with or the people who need to be replaced. Leaders will let things go because addressing them will make things uncomfortable!  And when that happens everyone loses.”

If you thought that leadership was supposed to be comfortable, easy or safe, you stepped into the wrong role. 

Too many leaders (church, government, education, business, sports) are just afraid to pull the trigger and make the hard decisions!

Our president faces just such a decision right now regarding Syria.

Here are a few ideas on how to go about the leadership task of making decisions–especially the tough ones where no matter what you decide, some people will not like it or support it.

            “1.         Don’t make decisions under stress

            2.         Don’t make snap decisions

            3.         Don’t drag your feet

            4.         Consult other people

            5.         Don’t try to anticipate everything

            6.         Don’t be afraid of making a wrong decision

            7.         Once the decision is made, go ahead to something else”

-Ted Engstrom

“When all the facts are in (or as many facts as you will need and get), swift and clear decisions are the mark of the true leader.

The true leader will resist the temptation to procrastinate in reaching a decision, nor will he vacillate after it has been made.  These tendencies are fatal to leadership.  Usually a sincere, though mistaken, decision is better than no decision at all.

In most decisions, the difficult part is not in knowing what we ought to do, it is in being willing to pay the price involved and having the courage to take a risk which most decisions involve.”

-J. Oswald Sanders