022 that’s not a decision!

Fredmund Malik, the Grandfather of leadership once said that only those who take decisions are leaders. In this week’s episode of Live It, Lead IT! I will be talking about what a decision is. Though it may come as a surprise to most, answering ‘Yes’, at least in the workplace is not a decision. Want to learn more… read on!

Decisions make leaders

Decision-making is a big topic and more often than not within organizations, the issue most people face, and employees suffer from, is that they are not being made. As per Fredmund Maliks’ insight on decision-making, being a leader is not about how many people you lead, but whether you are making reasonable decisions for your organization. Some cynics say good companies survive despite their leaders and indeed many companies unfortunately operate this way.

Many leaders within an organization have no issue when it comes to making decisions outside of the workplace, say when it comes to family life. They deal with a big wish list from their family, from renovations to new bikes, make a list and prioritise following a conversation with the family, and create some kind of structure in order to make the necessary decisions. They follow a sequence.

Those very same people when they find themselves back in their company, in those decision-making meetings, sadly don’t follow the same logic. For example, if their attending a project board meeting where the IT team is asked to support on a new project, those supposed decision-makers agree despite being busy. Their responses are always ‘yes’, ‘yes’ and ‘yes’, despite a work overload that will prevent them from delivering what they have promised. Saying yes to everything that comes along is simply not decision-making. So in that case, what is a decision?

What’s in a decision?

It might come as a surprise for me to tell you that ‘no’ is a decision.

If someone comes to you and asks you for something and the only option you have is to say ‘yes’, you are not a decision maker. To make decisions one must understand what is at stake, what the alternatives are, and what the consequences might be. Alternatives always exist. Successful decisions start with no – we are not doing that. If you are a company and you’re internal IT provider delivers something – a product or service to customers, your organization is likely maxed out. If a new task crops up, or a new customer wants something delivered by next Monday, and approval of that has consequences for another projects, you need to discuss it. Simply saying yes is not a decision.

Don’t say no!

My recommendation is don’t say no. But rather something along the lines of “I understand your project makes sense, I completely agree to it. Sadly however my resources have been given away to X,Y and Z, Since project Z is your own, if you can reduce its priority I can allocate those resources to your new project. OR, I connect you with the people on projects X and Y and you can discuss the resources with them.” This is what works.

Mr. Warren Buffet says the difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to nearly everything. For more on this insight in order to become a better leader, listen on to the podcast, and then practice saying ‘no’ more often.



Olaf Kapinski