You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

What is The Price for (In)Decision

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 19/02/2016 Vera Kenehan
DEFAULT © Provided by The Huffington Post DEFAULT

As I walked into the auditorium where I was about to attend a talk "Great leadership can be learned" I thought of this one question to which John Hennessy, the president of Stanford will surely give me credible and honest answer.
The thoughts on leadership have occupied my mind lately and the notes I have been writing down seem to be emerging into chapters of a book.
In order to avoid phrasing the question negatively, I asked him to reflect on the leadership outside of education and how to pertain long term vision in environments driven by quarterly reports. I did mention, in order to provide some context, that I work in a large multinational and he immediately understood what I was after - he answered directly to my indirect question:
"Leadership is broken around the world, in political systems, in corporations... Partly it is so because people don't like to TELL the truth when the truth is difficult."
I would like to add to that, people often don't want to HEAR the truth when the truth is difficult.
So, it is true? In the past year, I started testing my hypothesis with many of my friends, across different industries, and it seems to be universally felt "Leadership IS in crisis". I invite people to tell me who are the true leaders that they came across during their career and I am often aghast with the answer. I also invite the reader to spend a moment thinking about this?
I spent all of my career in a large company and have unfortunately seen it plagued by internal political struggles and, repeatedly by indecision. The machinery is there to "talk the talk" but It is becoming increasingly difficult to "walk the walk". Companies turn to "entrepreneurship" as means to fuel innovation, encourage the culture of ideas, take more chances and even speed up implementation.
There is one thing that Hennessy said addressing an aspect of entrepreneurship that is not on top of the list during "intrapreneural" transformation but should be on the mind of anyone who is responsible for decisions in a company:
"In any startup environment time is money. Prolonged decision making, long cycles of waiting for things to occur is DEATH to a company."
In large corporations, it sometimes takes months to come to a decision and I am not so sure that in the process of thinking and rationalization (large part often being a fear of conflict) the cost of indecision is taken into account. Not just the number of employee hours, delayed time to market and competitive disadvantage but impact on (de)motivation and empowerment.
To further quote Hennessy "You got to put some value on making decisions and be comfortable making them when everything is not black and white."
And, since I am biased to set of personal values when it comes to leaders, the final quote "When asked as president, can you do something, I say YES when I mean YES. Never say MAYBE when you mean NO. A lot who mean MAYBE say YES and it does not do any organization good."

More from Huffington Post

The Huffington Post
The Huffington Post
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon