“We’ll see” – These are words one hears often in domestic environments as in “we’ll see if someone buys the neighbors house.” No surprise.

In business it’s more surprising. What’s wrong with it? Maybe nothing if the risks associated with indecision are known and small. What if you merely think the risks are known and small? Why is it important to think about opportunities, risks, what is known and what is unknown?

1. The marketplace doesn’t stop. Someone is always watching it – maybe not you, but someone. The need they see and move to meet maybe one your company or firm could have met, faster/better but only if you act. This means gathering information broadly and testing it against your own experience and judgment.

2. People in organizations need to know what the direction is – otherwise they must seek alternatives for growth without any guardrails. I once joked with a client about the strategy vacuum in his company (this is far more common than one might think) by commenting that if the situation continued, someone was liable to suggest they purchase McDonald’s franchises. The executive looked at me – deadpan – and said “how did you know about that?” It had already happened – though in jest, someone inside the company had made the same suggestion.

3. Leaders who appear uncertain create distraction, for example: “What are we doing?” or “Does the leader know what he/she is doing?” (For those who love false dichotomies – no, the alternative is not an arrogant leader who can’t be influenced even by Einstein.) People will follow leaders who provide a sense of direction that makes sense. That alone is not sufficient. The leader must provide direction, help people connect their talents to it, provide the resources needed and then get out of the way. Decisiveness is needed to create these conditions.

Equivocation about direction, processes, resources and performance leads to speculation. Whether the speculation comes from employees, investors, the board, Wall Street, or Jim Cramer, it is a distraction no company can afford.

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