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Making the Difficult–But RIGHT–Decision

By John C. Maxwell | March 10, 2020
Making the Difficult–But RIGHT–Decision

The past few days have been busy. I’m in Israel on a trip with several people, and while we’ve enjoyed our time touring this great country, we’ve been impacted like the rest of the world by the Covid-19 virus. Everywhere you go, it’s the subject of conversations and concerns; it is quite literally the focus of the world right now.

It’s challenging as a leader when something like this happens because there are so many ways it impacts how you lead.

There are financial decisions because of the way concerns are impacting the markets. There are logistical decisions because of the changing health and travel advisories. (Trust me on that—getting home from Israel is suddenly a different proposition!)

But more than anything else, there are difficult decisions to be made right now, decisions that will impact more than bottom lines or travel plans. As leaders, some of the decisions we are facing right now have the capacity to impact the lives and health of countless people. These aren’t decisions to be made lightly.

In fact, our team just made one such decision. After speaking with several global leaders and monitoring the impact of the virus physically and mentally on people world-wide, our team just yesterday made the difficult decision to reschedule our Spring International Maxwell Certification event. This is one of our annual coaching certification events attended by thousands of men and women who want to become John Maxwell Team coaches.

This decision will have significant impact on finances, schedules, and plans, but is the RIGHT thing to do. Over the past several days, our CEO Mark Cole has met with me and briefed me on what he was learning, and we were in constant conversation about what we needed to do. In every discussion, Mark kept bringing us back to the question, “What’s best for our people?”

Sometimes in leadership you have to make decisions that are challenging and difficult. But in all those decisions, leaders need to think, as Mark did, “What’s best for our people?”

Simon Sinek, in his book The Infinite Game, talks about the need for leaders to put people ahead of profits; to care more about the long view than the short term.

Over the past several days, I’ve watched and offered counsel as Mark has worked his way to this massive decision, and here’s what I’ve observed and want to pass on to you should you find yourself in his shoes soon:

  1. He was in constant communication with his team. We’ve been in Israel for the past few weeks for a series of trips, and despite our busy schedule and the seven-hour time difference, Mark has intentionally carved out time to talk with our leadership team about the virus and its impact.
  2. He delegated responsibility to other leaders. In times of crisis, many leaders want to shrink the circle of information and responsibility, but it was expanding his circle that was essential for Mark in keeping the big picture in mind. By empowering members of our leadership team to monitor the news, watch market trends, and seek advice from other business leaders, he was able to have accurate, up-to-the-minute information synthesized and presented to him daily, which allowed him to see the Big Picture with clear eyes.
  3. He was deliberate with his thinking. Mark sought out several of his mentors, many of whom lead businesses that are being impacted by Covid-19. He listened to their challenges and thought processes, and he learned from them. I sat down with him each night as a sounding board and gave him space to process everything he was learning. He didn’t rush to a decision simply because there was stress—he lived with the tension until he could get enough information and perspective to make the right decision.
  4. He put the people first. I mentioned this earlier, but it bears repeating that when it comes to making difficult decisions, the impact on people must be top of mind for any leader. Not just your shareholders or employees, but the people you may never see—the spouses, children, and communities that will be affected based on your choice. Every choice you make as a leader has an effect that radiates outward; that effect can be as gentle as a ripple, or as devastating as a bomb blast, depending on how much consideration you’ve given to the people it will touch.

Our company has people as its highest value—we are people of value who value people and add value to them.

We have already worked with everyone who was scheduled for our March event and provided them a solution for the disruption. We’re adding value in new and creative ways thanks to technology and the efforts of our incredible team. It’s not what we’d planned, and it’s not easy, but it’s what is RIGHT.

Leader, whatever challenges come your way over the next few weeks, keep people at the center of your thinking. In times of uncertainty, when you’re not sure what to do, if you’ll make any difficult decision with people in mind, you’ll find you come out better in the end.

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29 thoughts on "Making the Difficult–But RIGHT–Decision"

  • Dan Williams says: March 10, 2020 at 10:13 am

    I agree put others first is best. Seek God and His will and all theses will be added unto you

  • feriel bayoudh says: March 10, 2020 at 4:20 pm

    Thank you Dr Maxwell for this valuable advice. I have never thought that putting people first can extend to the ones we are not in direct contact with. I was somehow limited in my understanding of influence. Whenever I find my mind blurred with stress and uncertainty I will join Mark Cole and ask myself “what’s best for our people?”. May God protect you and your team.

  • S.P Gazama says: March 10, 2020 at 5:25 pm

    Thank you mentor for sharing.

  • Evelyn Mae Duku says: March 10, 2020 at 6:26 pm

    Wonderful thoughts on leadership. Thank you for the sacrifices.

  • Evelyn Mae Duku says: March 10, 2020 at 6:34 pm

    Wonderful thoughts on leadership. Leadership requires one to recognize that certain crises demand the putting together of tried and true principles as well as harnessing new dependable methods that promote effective results.

  • Josh Stephens says: March 10, 2020 at 8:16 pm

    “What’s best for our People?” Love the question. Why do you think so many people in management positions miss the mark on this perspective? It seems like very few of us are in it for the people we serve.

  • Josh Stephens says: March 10, 2020 at 8:24 pm

    I really appreciate the question, “What’s best for our people?” It seems so few people in Management positions are actually in it for their people.

  • Shridhar G. desaiथृ says: March 10, 2020 at 8:35 pm

    सामाईक केल्या बध्दल धन्यवाद.

  • Lynne Brown says: March 11, 2020 at 7:54 am

    Thank you for leading by example. Your walk walks, and your talk talks, but your walk talks louder than your talk talks. I hope I got that right!?I love the heart of this team! August is going to be epic! #JMTDNA

  • Dan Williams says: March 11, 2020 at 7:58 am

    That is correct. The Bible teaches that Thank you

  • Joe says: March 11, 2020 at 8:04 am

    Lots of praise for a guy, with no information about what he actually considered or did. Will he close the business next flu season? It infects and kills more.

  • Jason Brooks says: March 11, 2020 at 9:30 am

    Joe, thanks for your comment. What specific information would have made the post stronger for you?

  • Making the Difficult–But RIGHT–Decision – John Maxwell | ajocoder says: March 11, 2020 at 3:41 pm

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  • Violet ssekite says: March 11, 2020 at 11:14 pm

    Thanks for sharing, it’s a blessing

  • JeNom says: March 12, 2020 at 8:33 am

    Yes, the decisions leaders have to take can be very tough. I agree that one will hardly go wrong with people-centred decisions.

    Thanks for these nuggets.

  • Alejandra says: March 12, 2020 at 10:30 am

    Thank you for sharing this experience. This is the time in which our faith is proven, and everything we talk about makes sense when we put it into action. Is in difficult times when you see the real leader. Loved the focus on the best for people.

  • Duane Priddy says: March 13, 2020 at 12:03 am

    I see bold leadership and thinking of everyone involved and seeking what’s best and not putting anyone in harm’s way. May God be with you all keeping you safe and healthy while things are uncertain and that you draw on His strength and power to get through the uncertain days ahead of you. In Jesus Mighty Name Amen

  • Gangadharan.sankaradoss says: March 16, 2020 at 8:42 am

    Good advice on our decision to be made in crucial situations when people face. Put others interest first. Really which is eye opening to me. Thank you Jhon Maxwell

  • Heidi A Maduhu says: March 16, 2020 at 2:24 pm

    I think Mark’s decision was the right one and I am PROUD to call him my mentor and my leader! Thank you Mark for putting us (your people) first! We love you and respect you so much.

  • Maud says: March 21, 2020 at 3:56 am

    God bless you and your team for leadership as we also follow. Amen

  • Yaneth Virginia González Rodríguez says: March 23, 2020 at 8:02 am

    Excelente lo que nos impulsa desde nuestro interior, todas esas palabras.

  • Connie says: March 23, 2020 at 2:26 pm

    I could not get all of the webinars. March 22, 23, i hope you leave on here so i can see or hear later.

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  • Jonathan Milam says: April 9, 2020 at 9:36 pm

    These are very underrated thought processes during this unprecedented time, John. I love “What’s best for our people” mindset, we need that now more than ever with such uncertainty every day. There is so much anxiety surrounding when we will get back to “normal” but if we, as leaders, make our decisions based around our people we can alleviate a lot of that anxiety. Best, Jonathan

  • Jesse M says: April 26, 2020 at 3:27 pm

    The leadership wisdom provided in this blog by John Maxwell finds an intense and accurate example in the challenges that Covid-19 has forced upon many. The application of these principles will continue to extend well beyond the days of this crisis. Whether it was cancelling events like those mentioned or pastors moving services to an online format, many would be frustrated or disappointed with a decision to suspend activities. The leader is forced to make decisions for the health of the people and not the wealth of the organization. As someone who has struggled to make quick decisions, this encourages leaders like me to submit quickly to wise counsel. Dr. Maxwell trusted the information he received from Mark. Likewise, ministry or business leader should be able to trust the advice of board members or leadership teams. As Proverbs 12:15 reminds us, a wise man listens to advice. Not only does this response help the leader make a decision, but it empowers the leadership team. A happy and healthy team feels empowered and trusted by the primary leader.
    One thing that I would add that leads to quicker decision making in times like these, is a refusal to let fear play a part in the process. Many leadership teams have rejected the fear of financial ruin in order to make the right decision and model a concern for the health of those they lead. This in no way means that everyone would agree with the decision, but leaders (Christian leaders specifically) must be led into the decision-making process by peace in their hearts and reject fear. (Colossians 3:15) Many churches and organizations rely on steady giving or income, so fear of failure is common. If there is not a clarity regarding the “right” thing, the process can be stifled. This prayer of peace is a regular occurrence from Paul to those leading the church and must remain a prayer for leaders today. As leaders, may we continue to lead with peace in our heart and trust in the team around us.

  • George Hege says: April 27, 2020 at 8:48 pm

    Great thoughts Jesse. Thanks.

  • Akhtar says: April 28, 2020 at 3:58 am

    Thank you

  • Making the Difficult–But RIGHT–Decision – John Maxwell - says: May 5, 2020 at 10:46 pm

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  • Dolores Priegnitz says: June 10, 2020 at 2:30 am

    Dr. Maxwell, thanks for reminding me to think “People First” in all I do. May God bless you & your team.

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