Making Hard Choices

Caught Between A Rock And A Hard PlaceWhen you are in a leadership position there will come a time when you have to make a hard decision.  It maybe that you have to fire someone or you must cancel a project or deny someone a promotion.  Whatever that decision is you will be required to act on it.  That is your role as the leader.  Unfortunately you can feel like you are between a rock and a hard place.

The key to being effective in making these hard decisions is in your mindset.  How you react to the situation will determine how your team handles it.

If you dread the decision and worry about it then it becomes bigger and harder to make.  You may also delay making the call which can have a negative impact on your team.

  • If you keep a bad employee because you don’t want to fire someone you are telling your team that you will tolerate poor performance.
  • If you let the team continue working on a dead project you are telling them that their time and efforts really aren’t important because you wasted it.
  • If you hold off on a promotion to avoid hurting someone you have missed a chance to help them grow into the job they want and you have given them false hope.

As you can see all of these are discouraging to a team.

If you embrace your role as a leader and all that it entails you will welcome the chance to make those hard calls.  It doesn’t mean you enjoy firing or denying a promotion to someone.  It means that you are willing to do what is needed to keep your team going forward and growing.

  • If you have worked on correcting someone’s performance and they are not making the grade then let them go.  They may even thank you for helping them get out of a situation that was not good for them.  I’ve seen it happen.
  • When you let someone know they aren’t ready for a promotion yet and give them feedback on what they can do to improve their skills you are helping them grow so they will be prepared next time.
  • If you have to cancel a project that is underway and you are open about the reasons you are helping your team understand the business and they can help make better decisions about their work and projects in the future.

Being a leader means you have to pay attention to the needs of the organization and take care of the people in it.  This means you must make the tough decisions when needed.  If you handle it in a calm and professional manner people will respect you for it.  If you drag your feet and delay those decisions your team will see through it and you will lose some respect from them.  You aren’t willing to stand up and decide; which is your job.  Your team wants you to lead, so go ahead and make the hard choices.  Be firm but fair and above all be professional and considerate when dealing with people.  They will like you better for it.

How have you handled the tough choices you’ve had to make?


Filed under Leadership

14 responses to “Making Hard Choices

  1. Carol, This is a great post! You make so many powerful points. This should be required reading for leaders at least 3 times a year!

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  8. Great post, Carol. There are so many things that are hard choices that can be encountered.

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