July 2018


The first and most important aspect of leadership is courage. Without the will to take on new initiatives, weigh risks, examine alternatives, and take action, nothing happens. If the principal purpose of leadership is to set and manage the team or organization's direction, the most important function of a leader is ultimately decision-making. Without a decision that generates a result, nothing happens. The result of a decision is what determines the organization's success, performance, profitability, and future viability.

A careful evaluation of how leaders make decisions defines culture. It can reflect a tendency to act quickly and get results now, or it can be characterized by extensive input, collaboration, excessive analysis, and procrastination. Examining and understanding how decisions are made is critical to leadership effectiveness, unity of command, and the efficacy of ongoing operations.

Without a clear view of how leaders are expected to make decisions in an organizational context, efficiency and effectiveness are likely to suffer. Likewise, team members and developing leaders will probably be confused and fault seniors for inconsistent decision-making and ineffective leadership. Given the dynamic connection between leadership and decision-making, it is essential for new employees and new leadership team members to get a clear view of how the organization actually evolves, progresses, and gets work done.

In terms of leadership and decision-making, teams and organizations can over time also suffer from organic development--that is, as organizations grow and add staff, these two essential interrelated functions, decision-making and leadership, evolve as a result of the natural behavioral tendencies of individual leaders. The insertion of leaders new to the organization, promotions from within, and other personnel changes can result in a patchwork of styles and decision-making processes and patterns that in turn can leave employees with a sense of organizational disunity and confusion.

While the solution to lack of continuity in leadership and decision-making is not simple and need not be robotic or stereotypical, it is important to objectively evaluate and analyze what factors diminish organizational efficiency, effectiveness, and profitability. Addressing the issues that surface in a clear, cohesive, unified way, thoughtfully and systematically, not only reinvigorates the team, but also gives all participants a healthy sense of understanding and comfort in knowing what the desired standards of performance and behavior are and how to execute them in everyone's best interest.

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