“Lead by Taking Action.” That is one of the core values of our companies. It builds credibility and reinforces the perceptions of our employees, vendors, and clients that we are strong, determined decision-makers.

Making swift decisions has been one of my greatest strengths. In the process, we have advanced the companies tremendously. On the other hand, moving too quickly without asking the right questions has caused me a ton of pain and anguish throughout the years.

For example, I once took on $15 million of work from a failing company. My managers at the time told me not to worry because there was plenty of money in the projects we were taking over, and we would pick up new customers while making money in the process. They further pressed that we had to move swiftly or the deal would pass. Rather than digging deeper and asking more questions, I trusted their advice. I moved forward with the deal and in the end, the hasty decision set me back years in reaching my long-term financial goals.

Had I asked the right questions, I would have known the company was failing because their work was not bid properly. What I basically did was move millions in future losses from their company to mine.

In our roundtable business groups, we follow a discipline that reinforces asking questions. Each of us presents the group with a key issue we are dealing with and asks for advice.  Our facilitator is very clear that after the issue is presented, the group is required to ask questions until all questions are exhausted. This is easier said than done because it is human nature to confuse questions and answers.

The theory behind the practice of asking more questions is pretty simple. The more questions you ask, the more certain you are of the answer. In a nutshell, questions lead to research, which in turn, leads to risk reduction.

Through our questions, this group is tasked with discovering why the issue is compelling. What has been done so far to address the issue? How did it become an issue? What is the desired expectation from the group?

Our chair works hard to ensure we are not suggesting an answer disguised as a question. He also has to keep the presenter from answering a question with a solution. Taking the time until all questions are asked and absorbed ensures every member of the group is prepared to provide good advice.

This exercise led to the discipline I try to apply to every decision I make, both business and personal: Stay with the questions and dig deep for as long as possible before coming to the answers/decisions.

I recently planned to make a major change at our labor service company that would affect the future of the business. Instead of making a hasty decision, I asked the president of the company to write an exhaustive list of the pros and cons of the change I was suggesting. When he presented his list, the answer was glaringly clear. There were more negatives than positives and as a result, we decided to put the plan on hold indefinitely. The answer was in the question.

Within our company, we have built a solid team that is primed to develop an exhaustive list of questions as we work through decisions. Demanding dedication to compiling these questions is paramount. Over time, we have gotten better at this process. However, I believe it could be a challenge for some leaders.

Here are four common challenges leaders face and my recommended solutions:

Challenge: Control

Trying to make a name for themselves, leaders often prefer to make executive decisions themselves without outside input.

Solution:

You probably did not get into a leadership position without help from others, and you will not be successful as a leader without input from others. When you face a tough decision, have your team list all the pros and cons.

Challenge: Laziness

It is hard to explain to a fish what it is like to walk a mile on land if you are too lazy to take the time to learn what life is like for the fish in the water.

Solution:

Do not wait until it is time to make a big decision. Make an effort to get on the front lines regularly and experience what life is like for your employees.

Challenge: Weak Teams

You will not be successful if you do not have the right people in the right place on your team.

Solution:

Make the hard decision to let go of poor performers.

Challenge: Fear of Missing Out

If they do not make decisions fast enough, leaders worry that they will miss opportunities because of the delay.

Solution:

Give yourself time every day to think about the decisions you need to make. Consider all your worries and concerns as you review your team’s list of pros and cons and develop strategic solutions. Write down ideas each day for achieving your goals, and always question your own ideas.

One thing I have learned for sure over the years is that most of the bad decisions I made came after I asked fewer questions, while the good ones took more time.

Are you taking the time to make the best decision? Would it be to your financial gain to ask more questions, even the tough ones? Do you have a trusted team of leaders who can help you through the process?

Damian Lang is CEO at Lang Masonry Contractors, Wolf Creek Construction, Buckeye Construction and Restoration, 3 PLS Labor Services, Malta Dynamics Fall Protection, and Safety Company, and EZG Manufacturing.

To view the products and equipment his companies created to make job sites safer and more efficient, visit his websites at ezgmfg.com or maltadynamics.com. To receive his free e-newsletters or to speak with Damian on his management systems or products, email dlang@watertownenterprises.com, or call 740-749-3512.

Post Category

  • News Article

Topic

  • Leadership

Published Date

April 30, 2024

Byline

Damian Lang

STI/SPFA Apparel