Roosevelt on Decisiveness

Decisive Action: Facing Issues Head-On

In both business and life, a properly timed Decisive Action can lead to success, whereas refusal to face the reality around us often leads to failure.

DECISIVE ACTION – The action taken after a leader evaluates Resources, Competence, Values, and Confidence to complete a task, solve a problem, or answer a question.

  • Resources – The assets you need to handle what’s in front of you.
  • Competence – The combination of knowledge, skill, and experience to handle what’s in front of you.
  • Values – The nonnegotiable fundamentals that shape our decisions.
  • Confidence – The belief that you will succeed.

From these, we can form a model that helps us better understand how a leader shapes decisive actions: moving from Identification of a Task/Problem, to evaluating the availability of Resources and the Competency of people involved, to determining how these can be used in congruence with our Values, and lastly allowing Confidence to determine whether or not the trigger should be pulled.

Decisiveness Model

If the leader answers, “No” at any point in the model, the following questions should be raised:

  • Resources – Can I talk with management about getting the right Resources and/or adjust the plan?
  • Competence – Can I acquire the Competency needed or train the Resources you have to the level required?
  • Values – Can I talk with management about the perceived conflict between the Task/Problem and the company’s/your Values.
  • Confidence – Are there past successes/lessons learned that will help me weigh the risk/benefit of inaction?

When we consider the term Decisive Action, its very nature leads us to think we must do something; however, we must understand that sometimes the correct thing to do is nothing – to wait and see. While, yes, decisive leaders often do jump into action – execute a plan, and, yes, this may lead to success. The most important part of being Decisive isn’t found in executing the plan come Hell or high water, but the process of evaluating and deciding, and then acting on that decision. Therefore, I encourage you and your team to face the issue or task in front of you head-on, and step through the model to develop a plan that will lead to the best possible outcome for your situation – be it to move forward, to stop, or to pull back.


  • What are some recent situations where we had to take some Decisive Action?
  • Can you think of a time where we didn’t face an issue head-on, and we lost an opportunity for success?
    • Why did we delay?
    • What did we learn from it?
  • Can you think of any areas where we can improve on recognizing opportunities and taking decisive action?

PDF Version of this Post: Decisive Action: Facing Issues Head-On

Accountability Is About Correcting Performance Gaps – Not Punishment

If you ask 100 people to say the first thing that comes to mind when they hear the word Accountability, I believe the majority would reply with words to the effect of Punishment.

Today we’ll look at the difference between Accountability and Punishment and how we, as leaders, can set people up for success and effectively address any performance gaps that may arise.

Accountability is about correcting a performance gap that develops between an expectation and actual performance.

Punishment is about retribution and deterrence, but it often does little to discover the reason for the gap or correct actual performance.

Begin By Setting People Up For Success

  • Ensure the plan and expectations are understood. Begin by asking and answering these questions:
    • What needs to be done?
    • What will success look like?
    • Who is going to do what and by when?
    • How and at what intervals will we communicate along the way? 
  • Provide adequate resources. An unfunded/underfunded mandate is one of the quickest ways to create a performance gap. As a leader, I must provide the people, equipment, material, supplies, and time required to meet expectations. Additionally, I must make myself available to the team for questions and guidance.
  • Check for understanding and feasibility. Is everyone clear and on board with the plan, resources, and expectations? If not, the leader must clarify and/or adjust.
  • Check progress and quality regularly. Accountability cadence (rhythm) leads to Accountability acceptance. Does your team expect you to evaluate performance and address performance gaps as a part of your routine? If not, you’ve got a fundamental leadership problem. Fix it by regularly scheduling performance update meetings and reinforcing the point that the purpose of the update is to address performance gaps – not punish those involved.

Hold the Accountability Conversation

  • Check your mind and heart – don’t assume the worst about your team. If I assume the worst about others, it can lead me down an argumentative, unproductive road that could increase the performance gap. Instead, I need to approach the situation with an open mind and heart, willing to listen to my team’s perspective.
  • Review the plan and expectation. Did something change in the team’s understanding?  Understanding can shift as execution and outcomes begin to interact with the team’s working reality. Revisiting the plan and expectation lays a solid foundation for identifying and closing the performance gap.
  • Describe the gap. Use a positive tone and body language and stick to the Facts – things you have observed and/or measured. For example, instead of saying, “Joe, I think you’re laying down on the job.”  Try something along the lines of, “Joe, our team has delivered three of the required milestones on time, and that’s a good thing, but I’m getting some questions from operations about our ability to deliver the two upcoming milestones on time, and they have also raised concerns about our quality as it relates to operational reliability. They seem to be having to take two of the systems we delivered offline every four days to repair them. Can you help me understand your working reality and your thoughts on operation’s concerns?” Then close your mouth and open your ears.
  • Get input about the gap. Is there agreement that there’s gap? If not, explore Alternative Facts and the Assessment of Performance. Once there is agreement, then it’s important determine what caused the gap. Was there an unexpected change in scope or conditions? Were there inadequate or unexpected results from the resources provided? Once the team understands the cause, it’s time to brainstorm ways to close the gap.
  • Develop a joint plan to correct the gap. Once the plan to close the gap is developed and communicated to everyone involved, the leader must ensure that everyone is clear and on board with the corrective measures. The key question here is, who is going to do what and by when?

Regardless of your industry or team composition, Accountability is a fundamental key to consistent achievement. I hope this short-version of Accountability 101, will help you and your team find greater success in all your endeavors.

If you would like additional resources on this topic, I recommend:

PDF Version of the Post: Accountability Is About Correcting Performance Gaps – Not Punishment

Leaders Should Be Thermostats – Not Thermometers

A Thermometer reads and reflects the temperature of a room.

A Thermostat reads temperatures so that it can make changes to the environment.

Thermometer Leaders read and reflect the temperature of their people and environment. If attitudes are poor or tension is high, then that’s what they reflect, which usually makes the problem worse. These are the leaders who often pour gasoline on a problematic fire instead of water. They run around crying out, “The sky is falling!” instead of calming themselves and others down, assessing the problem, developing a solution, and communicating the plan to those involved.

Thermostat Leaders set the temperature and continually monitor their people and production, which allows them to sense needs and make adjustments to keep things running as smooth and comfortable as possible.


  • Set the temperature daily – ensure everyone knows what to expect.
  • Track the pulse of things around you and make adjustments as needed.
  • Anticipate the problems and solve them – don’t create chaos.
  • When the unexpected occurs, let your brain take charge – not your emotions.


  • In what areas/situations am I more like a Thermometer than a Thermostat?
  • What are 2-3 things I can do better to become a Thermostat?