Champion Leadership Tip #38 – Champion Leaders Get the Facts Before Making Decisions

I know what you’re thinking.

This is common sense.

But, like they say, “common sense isn’t all that common.”

Last week the news was overwhelmed by the story of U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack demanding the resignation of Shirley Sherrod, the head of the USDA Rural Development office in Georgia.

It seems now with all the facts released, the furor which caused the incident, came from an edited video of a presentation Sherrod made back in March.leaders need to make decisions balancing all the facts

Vilsack, it seems, made a decision without having all the facts from which to make it. And, violated Sherrod’s basic constitutional rights of being innocent until proven guilty.

This is just one example of how people in leadership positions often jump the gun and make decisions without having all the facts. And, often times, even failing to consider the source of the information.

Back in the spring my wife sent me an e-mail from someone who just took over running a division where she works. This new leader unilaterally changed a policy based on his desire to save money across the entire division.

His decision was going to force public employees to pay for a licensing certification, for which their only use of it would be on the job, out of their own pocket and they would no longer be entitled to reimbursement.

The decision was sent via broadcast e-mail to every person who had responsibility for this area, and at no point leading up to the decision were department heads surveyed to discuss the decision’s impact on overall operations.

After significant pushback by department heads and reasonable arguments being made, the decision was rescinded two weeks later.

David Brooks, NY Times Columnist speaking on NBC TV’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday made a great comment about reporters and fact checking, “when I was a young reporter my boss in Chicago told us, ‘if your mother tells you she loves you, you better get sources for confirmation.’ ”

Organizational leaders desirous of maintaining high morale and motivation of their employees, should invest time in doing the same.

Get the facts before jumping to conclusions and making decisions that can have adverse affects on your people and organization.

Common sense, I know, but a good reminder in the heat of battle.

A great resource for leaders looking to improve their leadership skills in making decisions and communicating more effectively is “The Leadership Series.

“The Leadership Series” offers 7 lessons in leadership with assessments and worksheets that equate to a mini-masters degree in leadership. It offers practical and specific strategies and tactics to get the most out of those you lead while creating a high-morale work environment.

You can learn more about it at

‘tl next time, make it a great week!

skip weisman, helping leaders motivate employees to improve organizational performance