Yes Ma’am. No Ma’am.

Yes Ma’am. No Ma’am.

by Bernie Dixon

Anyone serving in the military recognizes that there are only three acceptable responses to a superior officer’s directive or question: “Yes Ma’am. No, Ma’am. Ma’am I do not understand.” The last response is seen as a request for more information before responding with “Yes, Ma’am” or “No, Ma’am.” It is basic military training. It works in the military environment where officers are trained in effective decision making and rehearsed in making decisions under extreme pressure.

Decision making is considered one of the key behaviors that distinguishes exceptional CEO’s. In a recent Harvard Business Review article, one of the four key behaviors of a high performing CEO is making decisions with speed and conviction.

Because, in an early stage company, the CEO is the connective tissue of the company at the core of most company operations and processes, it is imperative that she exercise decision making with speed and conviction. By making timely decisions, she can push the company forward, propel resources and change strategy as necessary for the success of the company.

There’s good news for women CEO’s in this research. They don’t have to be perfect. The best CEO’s don’t always make the right decisions. The focus is on swift decisions. 94% of CEOs in the Harvard study were given a poor rating because of their lack of speed in making decisions. Only 5% were labeled poor decision makers based on accuracy of their decisions. Here’s what HBR says:

“….(We) discovered that high performing CEOs do not necessarily stand out for making great decisions all the time, rather, they stand out for being more decisive. They make decisions earlier, faster, and with greater conviction.”

In launchpad2x we stress confidence, playing to win, playing offense rather than defense. The Harvard Study is another confirmation that a CEO (and thereby the early stage company that she leads) who makes swift decisions and moves with conviction has a huge advantage. Perfection is not the aim but rather positive momentum through confidence and conviction is the real key to success. The combination of competence and confidence / conviction in decision making is an unbeatable combination. You don’t have to get all your decisions 100% right. More likely what your company needs, especially in its infancy, is speedy and confident decisions.