As a leader, your ability to make and implement decisions that produce business and people results is vital to delivering excellence for your organization. Decision-making is where the rubber meets the road—where leaders truly demonstrate their effectiveness and attract the notice of others. If leaders can’t make and implement decisions for maximum effectiveness, they will likely not move up the career lattice, even if they have a strong presence in other areas.
Your ability to make effective decisions can also impact your overall leadership presence. Decision-making can bring together the other dimensions of leadership presence to complete a picture of a competent, effective leader. Leaders who show up in a way consistent with the organization’s brand, inspire others to pursue a common goal and purpose, and manage their emotions for maximum effectiveness pull all these aspects of leadership presence together when they make effective decisions.
Here are five ways your decision-making abilities impact your leadership presence:
1. They Show How Open You Are To Outside Input
There are three ways to make decisions—consultative, directive, and consensus. An effective leader will know how to determine which process is right for which decision. When a consultative or consensus approach is called for, they will not hesitate to seek outside input and commit to an environment of psychological safety to ensure that other opinions and ideas are welcome.
Leaders who seek out and incorporate outside input before making a decision, show that they are not threatened by dissent or opposing ideas. When they involve those the decision will affect, they will be more likely to generate buy-in and support.
To get in the habit of soliciting outside input, measure how often you ask others, “What do you think?” During a given day, tally how many times you ask this question. Set a goal to improve this behavior with your team and colleagues, and commit to increasing the number of times you ask this question.
2. THEY REVEAL HOW YOU MANAGE YOUR EMOTIONS
Many of the decisions you need to make will be tough calls. You might make recommendations that get rejected, you might have to let people go, or you might have to prioritize an initiative you disagree with. In the process, you can demonstrate a measured approach that allows time to gather input and consider multiple options.
Figuring out how to lead when you don’t agree with a decision or how to keep your team engaged when they feel frustrated will also reveal how you are able to manage your emotions. You don’t have to be a stoic automaton as you implement actions you disagree with, but you do need to communicate in a measured reasoned way. Managing your emotions well when tensions are high in the wake of unpopular decisions will reveal the kind of leadership presence that will engender respect from your boss, peers, and direct reports.
3. THEY OFFER AN OPPORTUNITY TO SHOW UP IN FRONT OF SENIOR LEADERS
The more you deliver business and people results, the more likely senior leaders will ask you to make a decision. You may be called upon to provide input on an important issue that impacts your team or function, or they may ask you to brainstorm solutions to particularly challenging problems.
In these moments, how you show up in front of senior leaders will reflect the time you’ve spent practicing how you show up to your team, customers, and peers. If you consistently show up as a solid representative of your organization, your voice will carry more weight and make a more lasting impression in the decision-making process.
4. Calibrate Your Negative Emotions
Leaders who inspire are deeply committed to their teams and to their team’s successes. As they navigate the organizational hierarchy and create a strategic vision for their teams, they will inevitably have opportunities to champion their teams to more senior leaders. When asked to offer input on business decisions and strategy, leaders who inspire will be able to create opportunities for their teams to contribute more to the company's overall goals.
5. Pursue Growth Through Action Planning
A holistic leader is someone who understands that how you show up, inspire, manage emotions, and make decisions all overlap and play out through innumerable connections. A leader who can make decisions and execute actions is valuable, but a leader who can tie those decisions and actions back to purpose exhibits true leadership presence. People need constant reminders of the “why”—the purpose of their work. When they understand how purpose and action produce results, they will likely feel more engaged and committed to the team and the company.
Being a leader with a genuine presence involves much more than calculated analysis and calm decision-making. Leadership presence means understanding that your decisions impact more than the present issue. When you combine your ability to show up, inspire, and manage emotions into delivering excellence through solid decisions, you’ll be better aligned with organizational strategy and purpose, your decisions will deliver better results, and you will get more buy-in from others.
- How many times per day do you ask for the input of others?
- What is one way you can improve how you manage your emotions in the wake of a tough decision?
- What is one way you can better tie your decisions to your team’s purpose?