Last week, I had to make a very tough decision. It was one of those that makes you sick just thinking about it.
Why? Because you know you can’t win. It’s one of those decisions where you’re going to make people mad and have mud on your face no matter what you do.
Now if you’re like me, you work overtime to avoid getting forced into corners where such decisions are even necessary. And about 95% of the time I’m able to rely on the systems we’ve created and/or the great leadership of the people around me to keep us out of the ditch.
But every so often a situation arises that we can neither avoid nor wriggle out of. This was the case last week. Something popped up that I had to handle, and I had to handle it immediately.
If I went with Option A, which was basically to do nothing and let the situation carry on, then I would probably make no one mad but I would be compromising a biblical value that our church has been based on for over twenty years.
If I went with Option B, I would greatly offend people I care about and who were innocent bystanders in the matter. But, our values would be intact.
Can you relate? I’m sure you can. Leaders face such seemingly no-win decisions regularly. And knowing how you’re going to make that decision, knowing what systems will kick-in when you’re faced with a really tough call, will go a long way toward helping you make the right one.
I knew my decision almost immediately: I went with Option B. I chose to displace some people who hadn’t done anything wrong for the sake of the integrity of what I believe to be the bigger picture. I settled for some short-term pain and dissonance over having to deal with the longer-term implications of compromised values.
That’s my formal answer, and it’s very accurate. But there’s another reason I can give for my choosing Option B–it’s the one I can live with.
When you know you’re going to make a tough call, and you know that a compelling case could be made for either side, then I encourage you to go with the decision you can live with the most. If you’re going to disappoint people no matter what you do, then make sure that you don’t disappoint yourself in the process.
The leadership decisions I regret the most, and in some cases are still paying for, are the ones I made when I didn’t follow my gut. I compromised my own convictions and leadership instincts for the sake of consensus or displeasing the fewest number of people.
I’ve made decisions based on my desire to quiet a squeaky wheel, and I’ve regretted it every time.
If you have to make a tough call, then go with the one that you believe in the most. At the end of the day, you have to look yourself in the mirror and live with the consequences of your choice.
I do not regret the decision I made last week. I regret that I had to make it, but I don’t regret the call I made. Yes there has already been pushback and I know more will come. I can live with that.
What I can’t live with is knowing that I compromised my own values and those of the organization I lead in the name of avoiding conflict. That’s never a good call.