As we reflect on the significant changes in the business world over the recent years, let’s revisit some timeless essentials, specifically focusing on the key behaviours that define great leadership.

In our human interactions, warmth and confidence often draw us to others. In the business realm, this translates to likability and confidence, which are linked to a higher probability of getting hired. However, beyond securing a position, when it comes to evaluating performance post-hire, other behaviours come into play, with decisiveness being a paramount factor.

Decide with conviction & speed: The power of decisiveness

Decisiveness is commonly interpreted as the product of speed and the quality of decision-making. However, insights from the CEO Genome Project, a 10-year study involving thousands of senior leaders across various industries and company sizes, challenge this notion. The study reveals that high-performing CEOs aren’t necessarily distinguished for making flawless decisions all the time; instead, they stand out for being more decisive. They make decisions earlier, faster, and with greater conviction, even in the face of ambiguity or incomplete information.

While making poor decisions might seem like a pitfall for CEOs, research indicates that the least effective ones are those who avoid making decisions altogether. The willingness to take risks and move swiftly with conviction, as opposed to striving for perfection in every decision, sets successful CEOs apart. Making high-quality decisions at a deliberate pace can prove detrimental to the business. Leaders need to maintain energy and dynamism by making sound decisions with high velocity.

Interestingly, even the brightest executives can grapple with decisiveness. The complexity of issues can lead them to analyse deeply, seeking the perfect solution. However, the pursuit of perfection can result in indecision and delayed action. Smart but slow decision-makers can inadvertently stall an entire organization, causing lack of clarity and frustration within teams.

The most successful CEOs comprehend the organisational imperative of moving forward with a clear direction. When mistakes occur, they adapt. Rather than waiting for 90% of the information, successful CEOs recognize the value of progressing with around 70% of the information, as advised by Jeff Bezos in one of his shareholder letters. Bezos encourages keeping things moving forward, even in ambiguous and debatable situations, by making fast decisions while monitoring outcomes.

The CEO as the pacesetter

Acknowledging the CEO as the definitive pacesetter for the business is crucial. If the CEO moves slowly, the entire organisation is likely to follow suit, and very few individuals within the company will move faster than the CEO. CEOs achieve results by setting direction and ensuring organisational alignment behind that direction. People cannot align behind a decision that has not been made. As CEOs enhance their decision-making capabilities, they provide clarity for others to execute. If a CEO remains indecisive, uncertainty creeps in, and the organisation becomes paralyzed.

Here are three examples of renowned world leaders who embraced decisiveness in their leadership:

  1. Netflix: Reed Hastings’ Quick Pivot to Streaming:
    • Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, demonstrated decisiveness when he made the bold decision to pivot from a DVD-by-mail service to a streaming model. Despite initial skepticism and potential backlash, Hastings recognised the changing landscape of the entertainment industry. His swift and decisive action not only saved the company but positioned it as a leader in the streaming market.
  2. Apple: Steve Jobs’ Decision to Introduce the iPhone:
    • Steve Jobs’ decision to launch the iPhone in 2007 is a classic example of decisive leadership. At the time, many questioned the need for a device that combined a phone, music player, and internet communicator. However, Jobs’s conviction and decisiveness in pursuing this vision revolutionised the smartphone industry and solidified Apple’s position as an innovator.
  3. Microsoft: Satya Nadella’s Cloud Strategy:
    • Satya Nadella, as Microsoft’s CEO, demonstrated decisiveness by pivoting the company towards a cloud-first strategy. Under his leadership, Microsoft invested heavily in cloud services such as Azure. This decisive move has been instrumental in Microsoft’s resurgence as a major player in the technology industry.

The decisive path forward

In the ever-evolving landscape of business, the mark of a truly exceptional CEO lies in the ability to make decisions with speed and unwavering conviction. As we stand on the threshold of 2024, it’s crucial for leaders to be mindful of the lessons of decisive decision-making.

The examples of industry titans like Reed Hastings, Steve Jobs, and Satya Nadella illuminate the transformative power of swift and resolute choices. Their stories highlight that decisive leadership isn’t just about making the right decisions every time; it’s about making decisions swiftly, adapting when necessary, and maintaining momentum.

The call to action: Seize the moment with decisiveness

As CEOs, you hold the reins of your organisation’s destiny. The impact of your decisiveness resonates far beyond boardrooms and executive suites; it permeates every corner of your company. The call to action is clear: seize the moment with decisiveness. Reflect on the lessons of those who navigated uncharted waters and emerged victorious.

In 2024, commit to being a beacon of decisiveness. Embrace the reality that a wrong decision made promptly often outweighs the paralysing effect of indecision. Challenge the status quo, empower your teams, and forge ahead with a clarity of purpose that only decisive leadership can provide.  Consider this: every day lost to indecision is an opportunity forfeited. The pace of your organisation is set by your ability to decide. Amazing things can happen when you decide with speed and conviction. 

As you embark on the journey ahead, ask yourself: What legacy will your decisiveness leave in the chronicles of your organisation’s history? The answer lies in the choices you make today. The time for decisive leadership is now—embrace it, shape it, and watch your organisation thrive in the currents of change.

Decide boldly, lead resolutely, and let 2024 be the year your decisiveness creates significant transformation.

Want to get in touch with Michelle? Get in touch here or through her website here.

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