decision making, consensus & pattern recognition

Decision Making

Adam and John interview Todd Wagner, Senior Pastor of Watermark Community Church, on the topic of decision making.

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Introduction - (2:36)

“Leadership is a commitment to being misunderstood.” - Todd Wagner

Decision making is one of the most important things that leaders do. There are always decisions that need to be made. This means that the leader must not be afraid to fail. Leadership is often a commitment to being misunderstood. There will always be people outside of the circle who criticize your decision making. This may be because they genuinely disagree with you, but it also may be because they do not have access to all the information you do. You must make the decisions regardless. You cannot be paralyzed by the fear of making decisions for others. Leaders need to have a bias toward decision making and action. This does not mean you forget the seriousness of making decisions when other people are involved. Decisions have consequences. Bad decisions will have victims.

How do you think about the role of others in decision making? (8:02)

Good decision making requires leaders to read the room, watch body language, and invite feedback. Consensus building is important for execution. However, if you want to lead by consensus, you are not leading. Leaders need to make decisions that others don’t want to make so they can be the people they want to be. You need to make sure that your decisions are backed by character so you do not erode trust with those who you lead.

How have you have gotten better at decision making over the years? (12:44)

Good decisions are what enable you to attract good people. This is how you build teams. Decision making often looks a lot like pattern recognition. But, in ministry, you need to remember that looking for patterns is not the most reliable way to manage things. Todd is reminded of Joshua 6, where if the people of Israel trusted only in the “pattern” they had seen in their previous victory, and then failed miserably. Even when you think you know what you are doing, you must be making decisions with humility and trust in the God who actually makes things happen.

How do you handle situations where you didn’t have all the information? (19:56)

Firstly, own the decision as publicly as possible. Let everyone know why you made the decision and what information you had that informed it. Make sure to get the reality of that decision out in the open. Ask for forgiveness. If you make a bad decision and everyone sees, convincing them your bad decision was actually a good one is not the best way to rebuild trust. The best way to build trust is to own 100% of that bad decision. When things go well, the best way to build trust is to give credit away to others.

What is the most difficult decision you have ever made? (27:19)

The hardest decisions Todd has ever made are ones that either, have gone contrary to his own self interest, or decisions you know may hurt those that you love. We see this often in the hiring and firing of employees. If a hire is someone you don’t believe you can adequately manage or even fire, then that person is not the right hire.

What is the role of the Holy Spirit in decision making? (34:24)

Christians should be making the best decisions, because they have the Holy Spirit. God is always more excited to show you his will than you will be to seek it. God is begging you to pay attention. Often, there will be times where God’s will is not clear in decision making. Ask yourself if you are doing everything you already know God wants you to be doing. After that, decision making according to God’s will come far more naturally. Avail yourself to every spiritual resource available to you.

How do you approach people asking you to make decisions on the spot? (38:55)

“Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.” - Proverbs 19:2

When you act without knowledge, you are inviting non-blessing into your life. This isn’t to say you never make fast decisions, but you must make decisions informed from sound knowledge. Rushing people into decisions is a sales tactic. You will be happier having waited longer to make a decision, than if you would have refused to wait. You must however fight against refusing to act until you have every bit of information. The ink of decision making is not always as permanent as you think. There is often opportunity to make mistakes and then go back and fix them. Surround yourself with counselors. Dream big, start small, and fail fast.

Conclusion (47:04)

John reminds that it is always a good idea to slow down and ask God to help you in your decision making process.

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