There’s a reason why people don’t like politicians who “flip flop” When you change your mind frequently, people find it hard to know what you stand for, which makes it difficult for them to follow you. While some adaptation of ideas is natural over time as new information informs decision making, frequent abrupt changes of position are unsettling for your followers. Why is this?

1. It denotes a lack of confidence – People like to follow leaders with confidence. If your leaders don’t stand behind their ideas, then are we all going to hell in a hand basket? Who’s really watching out for us? Eek, it’s enough to make employees run for the hills.

2. It causes a wake – When you change your mind, that means the people on your team have to change what they are doing to accommodate the new direction, which means wasted time and energy. It’s frustrating and demoralizing. No one wants that.

3. You lose clarity of your mission – People gather behind ideas and those ideas must be clearly stated and reinforced. If they wobble, if they change frequently and if they seem less than sturdy, the people will lose faith in the idea and in you.

Being decisive doesn’t mean having all the answers. Quite the contrary, it means letting go when you don’t. Don’t make a decision you’re not sure of because you want to seem decisive, particularly if you’re going to reverse that position down the road when you see the consequences. The best leaders know their limitations and call in experts in the areas they need help with. Set your team free to tackle the challenge and let their own decisiveness shine through.

Decisiveness also doesn’t mean you can never be wrong. In fact, being decisive means you will likely often be wrong. Fear of being wrong is the reason many sit firmly on the fence with their positions. If they don’t take a stand, they cannot fail. You cannot lead from the fence.

One of my favorite quotes from Steve Jobs who was known for his decisiveness:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

Go forth this week and be bold, be courageous and be decisive!


About Monday Matters: Monday morning is a great time to think about some big picture strategy. You’re hopefully rested from the weekend and ready to come out swinging. Don’t waste this glorious freshness on your in-box. Before you get into your tactical to-do list for the week, take this moment to pause and think about strategy.

Photo credit: Steve fm Flickr Commons