One of the hardest things I find about being a CEO is having to make so many decisions.
It’s worth noting that I spend a lot of time thinking about how to create a company in which I hardly need to make any decisions. I want an empowered team who take responsibility for their own work, figure out the answers and live with the consequences. I’m frequently telling people that I’d rather they made decisions and screwed something up every so often than that they didn’t make any decisions at all. I hope they believe me when I say it. The last thing I want is for the company to grind to a halt just because I’m on holiday for a couple of weeks, or overloaded.
But the fact is, there are a lot of decisions only I can make. We don’t have a specialist marketing function, for example, and so the decision of how much money to invest in PR has fallen to me to decide. The decision of how much to build up dual operations in a single country, versus invest in new countries, also falls to me. We don’t have a good process for developing new products, and only I can decide how we’re going to sort that out. One of my direct reports asked for a pay-rise last week, and I need to decide how to respond. I also need to make some fundamental decisions on where we take the brand. I need to revamp the bonus structure, too, which is basically a series of decisions. On all of these matters, I can get others to do the initial thinking, but I can’t delegate the decision itself.
All these decisions just pile up. A month or so ago, I had six major, urgent decisions on my plate, and I’d done all the other tiny actions on my to-do list. I’d run out of options for procrastination.
So I went to the park, climbed a hill, and sat staring out over the city. I took my list with me. It got cold. I had forgotten to bring a jacket. I made a few scribbles on the page. It started to rain. I sheltered under a tree. I made a resolution on one of the decisions, then decided against it. It got dark. I came home.
And the next morning, I called a coach.
I’m hoping that this coach, who was recommended to me ages ago, will be able to help me make these decisions. If not, I’m a bit stuck. I may need to start flipping coins.