Where my head is at…

So much is written about clarity of vision, focus and decision-making as necessary ingredients of a good leader, especially if you run a start-up. Because having these qualities helps with the scarce resources problem , a chronic start-up condition That’s at least how the theory goes.

But anyone who has ever run a start-up will tell you just how complex the reality is. You never have all the data or the time to make a perfect decision or to be always right in focusing on the right things. And if you do make a decision and realize it was wrong, the pressure to stick by it is immense, even when doing so could be fatal.

It boils down to this classic rock and a hard place situation . Being seen as someone who keeps changing their mind is bad. And being seen as someone who can’t make a decision quickly is worse. Especially as a leader.

In my experience, this situation is not a reflection of what you think of yourself as a leader, but it is about what you think of your team members as capable individuals. Employees deal with far more ambiguity in the personal lives than you could ever throw at them at work. So a clear cut decision or a precise focus area is less of their problem and more of yours. I have found that great team members are not dependent on knowing what you have decided or where you want to focus. What motivates them and empowers them is to know exactly what you are thinking at any given time.

That’s why I use “this is where my head is at…” a lot with my team and also my board in Breezie. There is no pretense of a know-all wisdom or a uncanny instinct in doing that. But it does have the ring of true honesty and it is liberating — both for me and my team. They can make their own decisions and take their own actions based on what we were thinking at “that" time and not feel guilty, apprehensive or stubborn to change direction as the thinking evolves.

Next time you are faced with the pressure to make a decision, start by saying “this is where my head is at" and you’ll see the difference.

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