If you read my article on how leadership is lonely and how to improve the quality of decisions you might be thinking, “Okay, I get the fact that leadership is lonely at times and I know how to make better quality decisions, but how exactly do you get this impeccable sense of executive timing?”
Great leaders make tough decisions and make them at the right time, no matter what individuals around those executives think they should do. Experienced executives tend to be better at timing their high impact decisions than inexperienced ones who are often impatient to make change. This is why sometimes people are frustrated with the speed it takes to make a decision. Most senior leaders will have more information than most of us so they will be considering a broad set of facts that many in the organization will not even be aware of. Considering all these facts can take time.
An experienced leader who has made many complicated decisions will have learned from both successes and failures. They will have practiced decision making and reflected on each major decision.
A new leader can accelerate the development of this timing skill by observing, seeking advice from experienced leaders and by being exceptionally reflective themselves. Every major decision is an opportunity to hone the quality of the decision and the timing. So when possible, take the time to reflect before making any major decisions and reflect after those decisions. Observe really talented leaders around you and note what facts they consider, who they obtain advice from and how they implement decisions. Don’t hesitate to ask others how they came to the decision including all the steps they took to get there. If you have a coach or mentor, this reflection exercise is one of the best ways to really leverage that person and to build this (or any) skill.
I think almost anything can be learned if people are willing. Building any new skill takes practice – deliberate practice. To develop a talent, people practice a lot and they practice in a very specific and deliberate way.
If you want to understand deliberate practice, check out this book.
Great leaders make great decisions and they make them at the right time. And sometimes that can be lonely.