While we may be divided on how we see the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, it raises an important topic, how unpopular decisions should be made!
It takes absolute courage to make and live by unpopular decisions, especially if it’s seen as unpopular before it’s made or while being managed.
We, humans, tend to go with the flow, and there are instances when you need to go against popular opinion and still hold your stand, that is an act of bravery.
I know, in the current context, some may see it more as stubborn foolishness or something else, but we digress!
With any decision that is aimed to benefit, it may be unpopular at first but eventually should become popular for what it has helped achieve.
Don’t you think so?
Anyone’s opinion is welcome and we should always have a healthy debate, not use it as a forum to bring another down. Also, as leaders, it’s not just about making decisions, we should have the ability to rally support around what we have decided upon.
As leaders, we all tackle several positions that are complex and difficult. No leader is a stranger to that. But, an experienced leader shouldn’t flinch before making a decision that may be unpopular or no one else is willing to make.
While collaboration is key to democratic decision-making, there are always some decisions that fall on the able shoulders of a brave leader. As leaders, we also need to cultivate the ability to influence others, be collaborative yet firm, and implement decisions for what they can eventually do to benefit in the longer term.
So, what does it take to make such beneficial, yet unpopular decisions?
First, it takes courage. It takes heart to face and acknowledges difficult issues. It’s vital to speak up and acknowledge problems, to relate what they can impact and how to resolve them.
Always focus on long-term benefits and the maximization of its revolutionary effect. A vision of the future should be top of mind for an able leader. By doing so, one can develop greater influence in the long term.
Seek out and gain all the information you can before you conclude. Leave no stone or source unturned. In today’s world, there is a high probability of biased information making its way to you. Seek out those close to the ideas at hand, discuss various viewpoints, ask questions to ensure you get well-rounded information to feed your decisions. While information can be a lot in today’s modern age, all of it is not true. Narrow down themes and sift through to get to the truth. Analyze the data at hand and explore options based on facts and figures.
Examine challenges from various vantage points. Note the assumptions, implications, and contingencies. Review each option carefully and what it means in the short and long terms. Evaluate the consequences of each option. Also, note how the various stakeholders will react and finally, focus on the benefits of each, for the short and longer terms. Make a strategic decision with the best impact.
While as a leader, you can decide to hold responsibility for your decision, know that you are better served by a group of supporters. Enlist support from those you work with, those aware of the issues, those that are experiencing them, even if you have to be the one making tough decisions. When you have others rallying around you in support, the changes you aspire to make will be smoother and sustainable.
Share facts to leverage support and always hold high the reasons you had to make the tough choices. Be transparent in how you arrived at your decision. Show consistency of thought and action.
When people believe in the process, they will rally around you although they may not like the outcomes of the decision made.
Your credibility as an able leader is always in question but when you back up what you do with facts and figures and a rational and transparent approach to decision making, people will respect you for it.
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