Let your yes be yes, and your no be no

I have spent thirty-eight years in the enterprise work-a-day world. From this long experience, in multiple countries, multiple industries, and in roles from entry-level computer operator to Chief Executive Officer, I have one core observation to take away.

Most managers couldn’t produce a firm decision on the spot if their lives depended on it.

There is always a qualification, a hesitation, a reserve.

Now let me be clear about what a decision is, first.

A decision is when there is no obvious path forward, but you must choose a path anyway. (The time to extemporise has run out.) Alternatively, there are two or more equally plausible and clear paths, but they are exclusive: you must pick one and follow it.

When there is only one choice, and it is obvious, there is no decision. There can only be action.

At the moments of decision, no matter how much freedom you have given your staff, you will be called upon to decide.

At that moment, you must. There is no alternative.

Hedging, equivocating, wrapping the decision in words that will later allow you to claim that you “never authorised that!”, is a betrayal of your people, and your own role in the organisation.

It is far easier to recover from a wrong decision, firmly made, than it is from a decision not made, or even the right one so hedged and uncertain that the initiative is lost.

If you are unwilling to decide, then relinquish your post, and go back to a staff role.

Your people deserve better. And you will get more from them, if you give it to them.

When a decision is required, make it.


About passionateobserver

I am a passionate observer of our society, the economy, and politics. Mostly I don't like much of what I see, so I write as a concerned citizen. To the fray, I bring a background in the philosophy of history, a lifetime's reading, a work history in information technology management, consulting and education.
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2 Responses to Let your yes be yes, and your no be no

  1. Jon hall says:

    Funny, sounds like decision making with children too … Swear those little monsters can smell weakness and run all over you if you hesitate!

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