This first law is based on decision-making; one of the most significant things we must do, as leaders, is to make decisions. Some will be good, some require further decision-making.
Law #1: Never delay or abrogate a decision that must be made. Make it and move on. You may have to immediately make another decision; this doesn’t mean your first one was wrong, merely that your second one had the benefit of additional knowledge.
Let me share a story…
I used to work for a 30-year USAF General, a war veteran with a chest full of medals, ribbons, and other colorful accoutrements. Great guy, razor sharp, did not suffer fools lightly. His name was Brigadier General Lawrence Bose.
General Bose was a fighter pilot (F-4) in Vietnam, most notably during Operation Linebacker (the push-back after the Tet Offensive). As it seems with many battle-hardened leaders (military and corporate), he was known to say some pretty profound things. The sorts of things you would tell yourself, “Hey, I need to remember that one…” Some actually stuck, which for me, is nothing short of miraculous. One, in particular…
“Shirt,” he would say (“Shirt” was slang for “First Sergeant” in the USAF–the reason is fodder for another story), “Leaders don’t really make good decisions or bad; they just make decisions. If they’ve done their job correctly, the people working for them make the results of those decisions good.”
Now, never mind whether you agree that decisions are never classified as “good” or “bad.” Set that part aside… more important is the leadership genius behind the comment. Our jobs as leaders is to make decisions. We’ve heard this a hundred times, so here’s a hundred and one: A mediocre decision made promptly and unequivocally trumps a really good decision delayed and hesitant.
Another fairly well known General, George S. Patton, put it this way: “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”
Consider this: If we’ve managed our talent appropriately, and developed our staffs as we should, most of our decisions will result in unmitigated success — those people working with us will make sure of it.
Just make the damned decision…