Recently, a colleague and I were talking about leadership decision making. We exchanged thoughts about the continuum of decisions, the “easy” to the “difficult” ones. Giving everyone a longer lunch hour on a sunny day is an easy decision to make for a leader. It is considerate and popular; who doesn’t like a little more personal time in the fresh air?
But then there are situations which demand a leader to show courage. The increasing importance of using social media in educational institutions for communicating with different audiences has meant that I decided to add social media usage as part of my staff’s performance plan in 2011. For a school that is largely successful because of its proactive marketing and on-the-ground relationship-building, social media is more of a necessity than an option. Was my decision (to add social media usage to employees’ performance plans) a popular decision? I guess it depends on who you ask. Some individuals accept new technology more readily. Simply said, they are aficionados of tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook Twitter, Four-Square and so forth. Others, in spite of providing training and coaching, do not come on board so easily. As a leader, I encourage and consistently send the message that everyone must engage in some form of social media practice. But to some staff, this may seem like top-down legislation. However, I view it as the responsibility of a leader to make and stay with decisions that are important for the overall success of the school.
Perhaps the most challenging decisions I have made as a leader are ones that have involved establishing new business practices, confronting a direct report on their lack of professionalism and performance, or dismissing an individual. I prefer to make data-based decisions, ones that will stand up to scrutiny and second-guessing, although they may not be popular. These are situations when a leader needs to show courage and decisiveness.
Every decision can be viewed from multiple perspectives. But whenever I have had to make popular decisions or ones that required courage, I have always endeavored to exercise my values of integrity and transparency.
As a leader, where does courage enter your daily routine?