Years ago I served as Chairman of a small Chamber of Commerce. We had endured some tough fiscal times but had emerged as a viable entity. But we knew our future was uncertain and following considerable discussion and review we opted to merge with a larger Chamber. Though our tough decisions may have been the best choice for the organization, they were a source of fear and loathing; at least for some.
The old adage, "you can’t please everyone" is constantly reinforced in times of change. We sought to move from a fund-raising model to one of giving back. After all, our mission called for us to serve our community. Some folks outwardly expressed their dissatisfaction; still others just faded away. While the benefits of this decision were numerous, there is no way that everyone could be made whole.
The process reinforced some very important lessons: 1) running a business is not about being popular and 2) tough decisions have to be made. We thrive on support for our decisions and we actively seek outcomes that will satisfy the majority of folks, but it doesn’t always work that way. As leaders we need to incorporate vision in our approach to decision making; decisions based upon popularity are emotion-based and are difficult to sustain and nurture. So what are we supposed to do?
Think Large- even when the decision seems small!
When faced with tough decisions it’s critical that we acquire a broad perspective of the issue. Decisions that seem small in scope often have far-reaching impact. Taking the time to scope out the ramifications of our decisions leads to more effective solutions. This should not be viewed as a means to please everyone but rather a well-balanced way to arrive at the most desirable outcome.
Respect- EARN it!
In business, we make tough decisions all the time. Earning the respect of our employees and colleagues is an on-going task. If we come from a place of integrity, if we genuinely listen and acknowledge, if we embrace the ‘who’ and ‘what’ of those around us, we will earn their respect. Though we cannot make everyone happy all the time, we can foster their ability to appreciate change if we first earn their respect.
Don’t Shy Away from Tough Decisions- Embrace them!
Tough decisions aren’t going away so why not embrace them! When we make tough decisions we plow through a challenge or obstacle that otherwise would have held us back. At the root of every tough decision is an opportunity.
Above All- Remember your mission!
When tough decisions are to be made, keep your mission at the forefront. Decisions, no matter how small, should be aligned with your mission. This sort of continuity breeds sustainability and confidence. In the case of our Chamber we explored a number of options. We simply could not ignore the fundamental reason for our existence; nor could we ignore that staying as we were, we could not meet those expectations.
Faced with our inability to fulfill our mission, we grew confident that our decisions, popular or not were right for our members. Several years later, I can see that we made the right choice.