Everyone must make decisions. What to eat? Where to go? Where to live? Live is full of choices that give us experience to answer more and maybe harder questions. When decision time arises there are many who advise do this don’t do that. It can all be daunting.

The fear of an incorrect decision is preferable to the terror of indecision.  Maimonides

Business’s face decisions every day.



I know a company where the leadership struggles. They try so hard to make it a pure democratic office from the lowly janitor to the highest executive. It’s a kind of no employee left behind in decision making process. Everyone has time to voice their opinions on every little thing.

A boat without a rudder goes nowhere.

With everyone making every decision via committee the company struggles. Every little decision gets bogged down in a never ending meeting. For example, at this company, I spent a year on the Employee Relations Committee where every two weeks and we would discuss employee problems. One problem we had was how to memorialize two employees who had passed away. It became a free for all because there were no boundaries, no limits and no guidance. After three years the project hasn’t progressed. It has languished and is most likely dead. The committee was rudderless.

There are two kinds of people; Leaders and Everyone Else

Most people need a leader. Someone to lead the pack. Someone to make the important decisions and most importantly set a course for the company. The leader chooses the destination. The leader uses resources in the company to get to the destination.

The leader directs the teams to reach the goal. Each part of the company has a part. Research and development create the idea for the product. The engineers design and build the product. The salesmen sell the product. The marketing company promotes the product. The support staff supports the product. There are clear paths for the teams. However it doesn’t mean that the path is simple and no decisions are necessary.

I read the business leader Harvey Mackay’s blog. Today he posted an interesting article on decisions entitled: Decision making defines the leader

James Barksdale, former CEO of Netscape, was a charismatic manager whose maxims endeared him to his employees. One of his favorites was formulated at a management retreat soon after he took over Netscape. It’s known as his three-snake rule:

  • The first rule: If you see a snake, kill it. Don’t set up a snake committee. Don’t set up a snake user group. Don’t write snake memos. Kill it.
  • The second rule: Don’t play with dead snakes. (Don’t revisit decisions.)
  • The paradoxical third: All opportunities start out looking like snakes.

Barksdale’s points were simple. Make a decision and solve the problem. Take it head on and defeat it. Don’t rethink it afterward your choice has been made. Look forward and tackle the next issue at hand. The last point is all decisions are scary at first but from decisions comes opportunities. Seize the opportunity and continue on the path.

Monumental tasks take a strong leader and a strong team. It’s how wars are won, incredible products built, and legacies are earned. All great accomplishments had a strong leader.

There is a choice to make: You can be the sheep or you can be the wolf. To be a great leader you need to be the wolf.