It’s sometimes hard to do the right thing. Even when you’re 100% sure the thing you’re doing is right.
A perfect example: realizing an employee is no longer a fit for your organization. You may be certain that letting them go is the right thing to do (for the business and, ultimately, for them as well). But—and this is especially true if you have history and really love them as a person—that doesn’t make it easy.
And here’s the thing. In business, especially as a leader, you’re rarely gifted the certainty of knowing 100% that you’re making the right decision.
Instead, you’re acting with incomplete information, operating under uncertain circumstances…and still called upon to make a choice, to move forward, to do something.
The lack of certainty is inevitable. It’s a feature, not a bug, of brave leadership.
So, how do you find the balance? What’s the tipping point between a brave choice and a foolish decision?
I like the concept of being “directionally accurate.”
A sports analogy: Businesses don’t rise and fall based on home runs. They grow based on a consistent pattern of hitting singles and doubles.
Every decision you make has the opportunity to create incremental progress. Which means you don’t need to be absolutely certain things will work out as you anticipate.
You do, however, need to feel relatively confident that you’re moving in the right direction. That your choices are directionally accurate toward where you want to go.
Another analogy: If you’ve ever driven a boat, you know that it’s not the same as driving a car. You point the prow in the general direction you want to go, and then spend the rest of your time calibrating and recalibrating to move toward your destination.
Sometimes you turn too far in the wrong direction. You always have the option to double back.
But what you can’t do is nothing at all. That leaves you stranded, stuck at the mercy of the waves and the wind. You lose your autonomy and have no ability to get where you want to go.
Bias toward action instead of stillness.
You don’t need perfect. You need good enough.
The concept of directionally accurate can help guide you. It helps you gather enough context to make a decision, then move on to what’s next.
It acknowledges that there is likely room for improvement once you get something on its feet.
There will be failures, if you choose to call them that. There will be misfires and course corrections. There will be a whole lot of learning, too.
And lest you think you’re the only one out on the water, never forget: you may be making the final decisions, but you never have to act alone. Find those people you trust: team members, advisors, peers. Let them help you lead the way.