Leadership decisiveness in an uncertain environment

Leadership in Sri Lanka under the present circumstances regardless of which discipline you are in, is a complex challenge. Leading in an uncertain environment is the hardest job for a leader.

The most crucial aspect of being a successful leader is the ability to make firm and sharp decisions in a volatile environment. Making decisions is possibly the riskiest part of anyone’s journey in any field, but it’s also one of the most important. In the world of business, a core quality a manager should have is decisiveness — managers to make decisions and take action.

When decisions need to be made, effective managers use analysed ground reality, take a critical look at the situation, consider alternatives, and decide on the best course of action — and they do it quickly. Surprisingly though, decisiveness is a critical ingredient that most people don’t add to their success recipes. And when you are not decisive, it means that you are unproductive.

Decisiveness isn’t a skill that people typically talk about, but it is extremely important to successful leadership. Unfortunately, most Sri -Lankan leaders are indecisive in relative terms. Don’t you come across indecisive leaders every now and then across all fields?  Politicians’ indecisiveness has led to the current crisis we are faced with – we now understand very well the importance of making the right decisions at the right time for others’ well-being.

However for us, it’s all about business leadership in an unstable socio- economic environment.

Indecisive leader

As an employee, have you ever worked with a leader who could not make up his mind on one thing to do, one who was always asking others what they thought, but they never came up with any conclusions themselves? If you have experienced this, you understand how frustrating an indecisive leader can be. Irony is that at the end it’s the team that gets the blame and not the indecisive leader – does this sound familiar to you?

Being a decisive leader is a must, especially when it comes to running a business in today’s environment with the protests of various kinds amplifying the challenges and delay in taking decisions is a huge cost.

Decisiveness is key for effectively executing plans to achieve set goals in a timely manner. Decisive leaders have the ability to balance the costs of continuing to comprehend facts, deliberate and delay a decision versus the costs of making poor choices.

They are aware of competing costs, and they weigh them carefully, but most importantly, a decisive leader makes decisions that are bold, clear and final. Calculated risk taking in this environment is a given for a leader for survival and then recovery to follow.

Some managers postpone tough decisions with the rationale that they aren’t hurting their organisation if they wait until things look clearer where an obvious decision can be made.

This rationalisation couldn’t be further from the truth. Many managers have experienced missed opportunities resulting from this way of thinking. You need to gather facts and data, analyse them, consider alternatives, and move forward; making the best decision you can at the time with the information that is available.

In reality we will not have all the information needed to make performance guaranteed decisions. Instead you are required to make the best decision possible with the best information available and make it work with the best effort.


Making decisions and taking action comes at a risk. It has always been the results oriented leaders’ preference to take risks anyway. However, making a mistake, realising it, and not taking immediate action to correct it could very well be considered a bad quality of a good leader.

Too often, ego and pride get in the way of taking corrective action, and the result is wasted time and energy. The hardest decisions to make are usually the ones for which managers receive many different opinions on the best course of action.

For some managers, myriad opinions would be a reason not to decide at all. So use your best judgment, choose a course of action, and get on with it. Furthermore, I always advise that if the decision proves not to be the right one, fix it as quickly as possible.

After a decision is made no matter how hard it is taking into account all what you know and experience in the current environment, there is no looking back.

The time for constructive dissent has passed. Instead, it is time for all members of the team to get behind the decision with 100 percent buy-in, even if their recommended course of action was not taken, and it is incumbent upon the manager to ensure this happens.


Even the best decision can be undermined by lack of support and second guessing. Decisive managers understand that their decisions may not be perfect and, therefore, that fine tuning may be needed.

They don’t hesitate to modify or alter their decisions when it becomes clear that the original decision isn’t working out exactly as planned. The effective managers know that making a decision and taking action is almost always better than taking no action at all. Have you ever had a manager who just couldn’t make a decision? Unfortunately, there are many of them out there, and they are very frustrating to work for. As compared with consensus-building managers who procrastinate in making decisions, though they eventually will regardless of how late or watered down, but yet simply can’t make a decision. Perhaps they lack self-confidence, believing they are unable to make the right decisions, so they take no action. These managers can be salvaged if they work for strong leaders who force decisions to be made.

Other indecisive managers might simply be lazy, or they don’t want to take the time to make good decisions. They are comfortable with the status quo and don’t see, or choose not to see, that their decisions are necessary.

These are the managers who usually can’t be salvaged and need to find another line of work — one that does not involve managing people. Decisive leaders take responsibility for the effect their decisions have on the company and others, and they are committed to following through on the actions needed to carry out a decision. Decisive leaders deliver their messages with clarity and confidence, which makes it unlikely for others to second-guess their decisions. 

Timely decisions

Don’t get it wrong. Being decisive doesn’t entail being arrogant, stubborn or hasty, it simply means having the ability to make timely decisions with clarity. Decisive leaders can be slow to change their mind. This is because they trust their instincts and are very confident riding on their superior knowledge and past experience.

Walk your talk by saying what you mean, and don’t hide behind corporate rhetoric. Get out of the ivory tower, and get involved with other departments and colleagues as often as your schedule allows.

Follow the golden rule of engagement with your employees at every level by treating each one with the respect and consideration that they deserve. And remember, if you don’t have solid, timely decisions and guidance, all those around you have something to lose: employees, customers and all other stakeholders.

Without sound decision-making the entire business – not to mention your position – is at risk. Learn to make decisions even in the face of uncertainty; this will make all the difference to survive during these difficult times.

Source link

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.