Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Leadership as a balance between decisiveness and accommodation

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on October 12, 2013

I keep coming back to the issues and challenges of leadership and of what constitutes good, effective leadership in writing this blog, and find myself returning there again. Leadership is as much art as science: too malleable and changing in its requirements to fit into any simple, rote “one size fits all” formulary. So I keep coming back to this crucially essential process to reconsider it from yet another perspective. And I do so here too, with this posting.

Ultimately, leaders make decisions and that constitutes the hallmark of being a leader. These might or might not be popular decisions; the overriding responsibility here is that they be the best decisions that this leader can find as workable options given the information and the resources they have available at the time. Leaders decide, and they sign off on if not always directly set the goals and priorities that come out of those decisions, moving forward. Leaders need to be decisive and clear in this, so everyone who turns to them for leadership knows where they stand and what they need to work on and accomplish next.

But no one leads in a vacuum. No one simply dictates decisions without input or awareness of impact or consequences on others – at least if they and their organizations are to succeed long-term, and at least if they expect to keep being followed. This means listening and it means two-way communications. And it often means accommodating the needs and concerns of others so that at the very least, strategic decisions made can be operationally laid out in steps that others can follow.

• So leadership is in significant part, a process of finding and creating a meaningful balance between being decisive and being accommodating.
• Learning to be an effective leader is in large measure a process of learning how to find and create this balance point,
• And learning how to involve others in that so that they see themselves as stakeholders in this overall shared endeavor – and so that they be willing to follow this lead.

The approach that I write of here very clearly applies to leaders who serve in more open organizations that seek to pursue more democratic processes that open up decision making. But ultimately, they apply to more top-down and authoritarian organizational systems, and history in fact compelling proves that to be true for military organization examples.

A commanding officer might make all of the final and binding decisions, but the hubris of attempting to do this without input or insight from others, and even from others farther down their chains of command, leads to disaster – not necessarily every time or right away, but with time inevitably.

I offer this as a short posting and as a thought piece, and acknowledge that I will be coming back to this general area of discussion: leadership best practices. Meanwhile, you can find this posting at Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and at Page 1 and Page 2 of that directory. And you can also find related postings at Social Networking and Business and HR and Personnel.


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