More and more, I believe that true value of management is the willingness to make a decision, any decision in some cases. I don’t think that people necessarily want someone else to tell them what to do, but perhaps they want someone else to shoulder the responsibility for it. Or maybe they don’t want to risk being wrong. Or it might be that they simply don’t feel empowered to do it themselves.

Whatever the reason, I’m convinced that one of my most important functions is to be the go-to person who will decide what to do. In most situations, there isn’t a clear right-or-wrong answer, and I don’t know which path will yield the best results any more than the person asking me. I try to make an educated guess and chose a solution. One thing is certain: nothing will get done until we try something. A decision-maker is just willing to stick her neck out to make it happen.

Here are some observations I’ve made over time.

  1. The first decision is the hardest to make. They get a lot easier after that.
  2. A bad decision is better than no decision. You can learn a lot from a bad decision, but you gain nothing when you do nothing.
  3. If it doesn’t work, make adjustments.
  4. As soon as people see you’re willing to make a decision, they’ll ask a lot more often.
  5. You can’t make every decision every time, and you shouldn’t want to. Help the people around you understand why you do what you do. Lead them, coach them, mentor them. We need more decision-makers.
  6. Learn from your mistakes.
  7. Learn from your mistakes.
  8. Learn from your mistakes.

If you think this post isn’t for you because you don’t manage people or you don’t have that kind of job, you’re wrong. We need decision-makers in all walks of life, at work and at home and in school. If you’re a parent, think of it this way. How often have you had to answer a question for your kids or decide the best way to handle a situation? Chances are, you’re flying on a wing and a prayer. Your kids think you know everything (until they hit 13), and even though you feel completely unqualified, you suck it up and choose a path. When it doesn’t work, you try something else.

Nike has it right. Just do it.