Decisions are Not Permanent
Leadership requires direction. Direction requires a decision. Each decision, then, often feels like a no-return journey. But it is not.
In order to lead, we must make decisions that are certain. However, I do not think that we need to pretend as if every decision is permanent. As those we serve, sell to, or resource change, so will our production.
In the life of a business, a design for or marketing of a product that works in one era may change in the next era. For example, initially many of the cellular telephones were designed for use in a car. People in the market were happy to receive that technology for that usage in that way. Eventually, however, people wanted to carry the technology around with them. If a company had dug in its proverbial heels and said, “No. We’ve made the decision that cellular phones must be used inside an automobile,” then that company would have gone out of business.
A similar story could be told for a non-profit, charitable organization such as a church. The decision can be made in one era that the style of discipleship will be in on-campus groups housed in education-styled buildings. The methodological decision is likely keyed off of how the church can best address the needs of the culture. As time marches forward, the culture may change in how it will receive or respond to the message of the church. Perhaps in the next era, the on-campus, educational-styled groups is no longer an effective means of communication. Learning styles change. The way people gather modifies. Prevailing social cues move in different directions. So, what is the church to do? Without abandoning its core principles, it chooses a delivery method that is effective with the environment.
At the heart of these illustrations is that many of our decisions are not permanent. They are based on environment, audience, and let’s be honest, a bit of guesswork. As a leader, you must be able to navigate this arena.
Know what is a principle and what is a form. Respect is a principle that we teach people. Wearing your hat or not wearing your hat indoors is a form of that principle. Leaders must identify the differences for people.
Know what is negotiable in your deliverables. Obviously, a car manufacturer must make cars. It cannot change to making spaghetti noodles. Nor should that car manufacturer suddenly begin making cars that break down when driven home by a new owner. The leader must put boundaries up for what is allowable in the work.
Choose quality. Workers often just want to finish. Leaders should want to win. At times it will be hard, but you must help everyone look past a changed decision for what it will win in the end.
Give permission for non-permanent decisions by others. The members of your organization need to know that they have the opportunity to correct course. It will free them to experiment with new ideas and risk for greater success.
Be the first to change. The only real way to work this into your organization is to change one of your own decisions. It will mean swallowing your pride and admitting that you were wrong in your initial assessment. But it can help you create a hero. As you welcome input from others, don’t do it just for show. Do it to learn and perhaps avoid a catastrophe. Learn to change and the your end-result will be ready for the culture around you.