Make the Tough Call

The willingness to make the tough call is one characteristic that separates those who like to talk about leadership from those who take it one step further and live it out. It may sound harsh, but it’s true.

It’s a leader’s job to steward what’s best for the organization. And what’s best for the organization isn’t always what’s easiest. Or what’s most comfortable. Or even what makes you the most likable, at times.

The reality is that the one thing worse than making the tough call is not making it. To carry on like nothing’s wrong, ignoring the problem and the likely repercussions from it.

I was reminded of this fact when I connected with an old colleague this past week. Years ago we served in the same organization. I was the new leader, and he was a member of the sales team. His sales were lagging and had been for some time. It was my job to get the right people in the right seats on the bus, and I was quite confident this individual wasn’t in the right seat. In fact, I wasn’t too convinced he even wanted to be on the bus.

We had a tough conversation about his performance, and he decided to resign to weeks later.

That’s the tough call part. But our story didn’t end there. After leaving the security of a job he didn’t love, he summoned up the courage to pursue his true passion. Today, a few years later, he has a growing and successful career living his dream and doing what he loves.

This “happy ending” doesn’t make that tough conversation we had years ago any easier for either one of us. I doubt at the time he was enthusiastic about leaving a job that provided stability and a good paycheck. I’m not promising that every tough call has a happy ending.

We must remember that what’s right isn’t always easy. And what’s right isn’t always rewarded. However what is right is always, in the end, what’s best.

Are you avoiding having a tough conversation or making a tough call? If so, examine as to whether you’re avoiding these tough decisions because it’s best for the organization…or because it’s the most comfortable and safe choice for you.

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