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Three kinds of critical decisions leaders need to make

Leaders make decisions. That’s what they do. The more the responsibility, the more may be riding on each and every decision.

I want to submit to you that the most important decisions leaders make fall into three major categories and out of these three come all the other lower level decisions.

Directional decisions:

A good leader sets the direction for the group, organization or church. What exactly will we do as we build on our Purpose (why we exist) our Values (what we believe) and our Vision (where we are headed)? I call these decisions strategic initiatives. The leader leads the charge as to what initiatives will be set in motion in order to build on the purpose, values and vision.

The initiatives have also been referred to as BHAGs (big hairy audacious goals) and WIGs (wildly important goals). There are a lot of things that can be done, but everything is not equally essential or will provide the most leverage.  In many cases we’re talking about 3-5 strategic initiatives in a six  month, one year, or 5-year time frame.  It’s not just a matter of doing things, but doing the most important things in any given period of time…things which will have the most impact in moving the ball down the field. You can’t do everything but you can do some things. And what those “some things” are is critically important to future success.

Personnel decisions:

In order to accomplish these strategic initiatives the right team of people need to be in place. One of the most important decisions a leader makes is who he/she invites into the core team to help accomplish the purpose, values and vision via the strategic initiatives.

Success in any endeavor will be the result of, as Jim Collins says, “Having the right people on the bus and in the right seats.” Nothing can scuttle the team efforts faster than either having the wrong people or having the people in the wrong seats on the team bus--people operating outside of their passion, experience, gifting and capacity.

Financial decisions:

Once the decisions have been made as to where the group, organization or church is headed (strategic initiatives) , and the team is in place to help you get there, you need the finances to fund everything. I have heard it said that upwards of 80% (maybe even higher) of new businesses and new church plants fail.

One of the reasons (but certainly not the only reason) this is the case is because they are under-capitalized. They are overly optimistic about how fast things will proceed and don’t have the cash flow to continue beyond a few short years.

Suffice it to say that things take longer than we thought and cost more than we anticipated. How many projects have you seen started in various cities around the country that take years longer than was originally stated and cost millions more than was originally anticipated? The leader and the team need to be thinking of creative ways to motivate and inspire people to support the endeavor at hand. I believe that giving follows vision. If the vision is big enough and inspiring enough, people will come out of the woodwork to give to it.

Robert Schuller, founder of the the Crystal Cathedral, said “It’s never a money problem, it’s a vision problem.” My experience has born this out. The money is out there, but the vision is too weak (or doesn't exist at all) which would bring in the necessary funding.

May I encourage you, fellow leader, to think about what kind of directional, personnel and financial decisions you and your team need to make in the coming mont

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