Have you ever observed effective leaders and asked yourself, “What are their common characteristics?”
You may be thinking some people are just born leaders and some are not, that certain personalities are geared toward leading. While it is true that leading comes easier for some of us by personality, it is also true that some of our greatest leaders were not the “D-wired,” driven personalities you might expect. Some of the most profitable companies in our day were started by introverts.
The more common characteristic of a successful leader is the ability to make good decisions quickly.
In businesses, there are four key decision points.
This is the beginning – of a company, a division, or an initiative. As such, it carries a great deal of excitement, which helps fuel the enormous efforts needed by team members to make it happen.
Effective leaders make decisions to start. Despite the questions, obstacles, doubts, and fears, they are able to assess the value of an idea quickly and simply START.
This is where the organization hits a pinnacle of growth. Some may call this the bursting point. Your people are maxed out, and your resources are strained. At this point, the majority of leaders pull back. They have hit the proverbial glass ceiling and accept its limitations.
Effective leaders make the decision to go outside their comfort zone, to take on the next level, and find a way to make it work. It is a matter of calculated risk, and effective leaders will readily accept the challenge.
There are ups and downs in life and business. In fact, if you charted your life or business as a graph, you may find that some of the deepest dips were followed by the highest peaks.
Seth Godin says, “To be a superstar, you must do something exceptional. Not just survive the Dip, but use the Dip as an opportunity to create something so extraordinary that people can’t help but talk about it.”
Effective leaders expect the ups and downs. They know “this, too, shall pass” and make a conscious decision to learn the lesson of the dip and move through as quickly as possible.
My mentor, Dan Miller, often speaks of his “no” list – those opportunities he has chosen to say “no” to in order to say “yes” to the ones that really matter to him. He weighs the list often.
An effective leader says “no” exponentially more than they say “yes.” They say “no” to unnecessary meetings, “no” to opportunities that do not fit the vision, and “no” to people who need to be removed from the team in order to make the team work. Saying “no” is not easy, but it is essential to being an effective leader.
Each decision point has its own unique challenges, but making good decisions quickly at these points can determine the success of your business.