New and experienced CEOs can be stymied by indecision and/or fear. There is nothing to be ashamed of, but letting these emotions affect your company may lead to problems. Such issues may arise when facing shortfalls of funding, decreased sales, potential partnership discussions, or the competition launching new products. Perhaps you find that a situation went wrong under your direction and you are concerned how the Board of Directors will respond. There many such areas where a CEO may find troubling.
Fear can certainly alter your decision making. A company running out of money needs to develop a plan of action and execute quickly. Even with perfect execution, it is still possible to run out of funds. Facing this issue is daunting enough without coupling it with any potential layoffs, concerns of failure, and loss of your job. One thing is certain, any delays in planning and execution only complicates the mess.
Indecision can arise in many situations. Perhaps you feel knowledge is missing or a decision will bring about an uncertain situation. Pondering the issues does not make the problem any easier. There are many positives and negatives around decisions but the indecision can make things worse. There are cases where indecision may be acceptable if the status quo is acceptable. Then there are those cases where the indecision only increases the likelihood of failure.
Regardless of the reasons, there are a few steps that can help turn a fearful or indecisive situation into one with a greater potential for a positive outcome.
Recognize issue(s): Fear and indecision will never get better until you realize what the issues are. It is not possible to address a situation that you feel does not exist. There may be multiple levels of fear in any issue. For example, when running out of money, you may fear loss of your job, layoffs, telling employees, facing the Board, and/or stigma of failure. It is critical you recognize the issues so you can take the next steps.
Confront Issue(s): It is okay to feel fear and indecisive, but you must confront the issues. Understand the up and downside of potential actions as well as the failure to act. Speaking with your Board and advisors to get feedback can be very helpful. It is possible to have discussions without bearing your soul, but you do need to get their feedback. Their experiences may be helpful to your situation.
Plan for success: Develop the best plan(s) that you believe will lead to a successful outcome. Sometimes, this requires having alternate plans to cover contingencies. It may be possible more than one plan of action can be taken at the same time. Identify what you can handle and where you need help. Seek assistance where needed and monitor those helping.
Failure is possible: Recognize failure occurs in business every day. You may fail but there are worse things. Many highly successful business leaders have failed one or more times and found a way to use their new knowledge to become successful. In short, it is okay to fail as long as you have done everything you can do to have succeeded. Failure occurs for many reasons; make sure you personally are not one of those reasons.
Execute: Channel that fear into energy and execute on your plans. Be prepared to adjust as needed because most situations are in flux. Your actions may need adjustment to accommodate a rapidly changing situation. The art of becoming more agile and enhancing your chances of success comes from learning how to quickly adapt to rapidly changing situations and plan ahead.
Taffy Williams is the founder and president of Colonial Technology Development Company and the author of Think Agile: How Smart Entrepreneurs Adapt in Order to Succeed. He writes the Startup Blog and for Examiner. He can be found LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and Facebook.