Decisions in the Middle are Nowhere

I just blogged last week about varying behaviors demonstrated by Wimps, Facilitators and Leaders.  There was much ado about how Wimps play the middle with inaction while Facilitators interject constructively to affect positive outcomes. Leaders, meanwhile, take firm positions on one side or create new stands with passion and certainty. This post is a spinoff of sorts to that mantra.  It concerns making decisions by consensus, getting feedback, using counsel and soliciting advice.  All good, you say?   I think not.

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Here again, great leaders differ than conventional advice supposes. Oh, I know. Soliciting intelligent information from others, listening to counsel and teamwork have its place. In fact, a very specific place—in the middle.  And Leaders, as so suggested, don’t care for middle ground.

[bquote]Reputation is something that people with courage can do without. [/bquote]

Consensus by group-think is not leadership; it is consensus by group-think. Anyone who is nominally intelligent and who possesses adequate social skills can reach conclusions through others’ opinions or by taking a vote. The results are humdrum predictable: Outcomes are centrist, secure, safe and similar. Moreover, they provide an out. If the final decision-by-committee proves to be wrong, you can always blame the group and lament the compromise.  In other words, you can dodge accountability.  Very Wimpy.[bquote_left]Consensus by group-think is not leadership; it is consensus by group-think. Very Wimpy.[/bquote_left]

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But leaders are feisty. Leaders follow their own visionary course and stay with it. They demonstrate a stick-to-it-ness by owning the decision. They are super-charged motivated to prove themselves right  (and the critics wrong). Leaders thrive to be different, not similar.  They pick ideas that they are told will never work.  Leaders buck trends. This sometimes provokes criticism from the whining masses. And leaders could care less. Leaders embrace unpopular positions, disdain naysayers and rebuke centrist attitudes. They make independent decisions with conviction and courage. Reputation, as Rhett Butler famously jibed Scarlett O’Hara, is something that people with courage can do without. So it is with great leaders.

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Here’s how a leader makes decisions:

  1. She picks an idea that she believes in. It’s the vision thing. The leader’s decision is in sync with her values and firm commitment to make it work. She decides with passion..
  2. She seeks and utilizes data, not opinions.  Sure a leader gathers pertinent information to make her decision. But she wisely ignores emotional pleas, political positions, cautionary warnings, outsider opinions, etc.  She gives no credence to anything that isn’t data..
  3. She listens not to any other heart but her own.  Data analysis will take the leader only so far. Tried and true critical thinking techniques and fish-bone diagrams tend to steer decisions to conventional conclusions.  Pro / Con analyses too often nudge to the middle line.  Ultimately leaders must decide from the heart. She must believe, not just in the vision, but in her own instinctual spirit and ability to decide from within..

[bquote]Decide this way and it will not be compromise. Follow this path and wherever your dream takes you, it won’t be in the middle.[/bquote]

Go ahead. Try it. Make a decision.  Pick your dream, ignore the naysayers, collect data and listen to your heart.  Take it from me. When it comes to listening, my heart is ultimately the only thing that works! Decide this way and it will not be compromise. Follow this path and wherever your dream takes you, it won’t be in the middle.

2 replies
  1. Jefferson says:

    “When it comes to listening, my heart is ultimately the only thing that works!”
    Powerful choice of words and article, which clearly points out the characteristics of a visionary leader and decision maker.

    Reply
    • Brian Patrick Jensen says:

      Thanks a lot Jeff. I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment, especially regarding the leadership material. Character-based Leadership is indeed very “powerful” and will be the centerpiece of many of my speeches, presentations and blogs going forward. On that count, you may especially appreciate an earlier post where I refer to quick-read leadership series in the Washington Post written by a West Point Academy Leadership expert. You may particularly value the the perspective of military leaders, for whom I try to draw many lessons on leadership. They know! Take a look: http://brianpatrickjensen.com/?p=363

      Reply

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