Politics and personal feelings aside, there is no question George W. Bush’s Decision Points is worth reading. Yes, a sentence with something positive and “W” together – not something that was seen too terribly often over the last several years. It is frankly “easy to read”. It covers a period which we all have quite vivid memories of while addressing some very real events – 9/11, Iraq, Katrina, Afghanistan, the elections of 2000 and 2004 and a variety of other topics. It does not preach, defend or pontificate – it just is. However, at its core the book is about making decisions.
Making decisions is absolutely one of the key components of leadership, yet it is something that is all too often overlooked. There are countless books, seminars, training programs and experts who espouse on such catchy leadership themes as “empowering”, “inspiring”, or “mentoring” yet very few ever discuss the reality that leaders must make decisions. There is no stopping events…things as they say, will happen with or without decisions being made. By their very nature, decisions are quite often difficult, divisive, and leave at least someone feeling left out or disregarded. But make no mistake – leaders have to make decisions.
Decision Points is actually an easy read – it flows, it does not get bogged down in wordy prose or an attempt to polish history. It discusses in often frank terms the reality of making decisions. Decisions often based on less than perfect information, in a very stressful situation, in which there is no easy answer. Yet decisions had to be made, and in the end only one person could make the decision. That one person happened to be the President. He was, like it or not, the leader.
It is a harsh and true reminder to all – leaders have to make decisions. It will not be easy, not everyone will be happy, the information will not be perfect, and the results will likely not be exactly what you want, but decisions have to be made. They can be avoided, made by committee, put-off, or maybe even delegated, but in the end a decision will be made. Events will continue to evolve. Leadership is about a lot of things, and one of them is decision-making. And like many of the facets of leadership, decision-making is a lonely thing. Leaders own their decisions, and even their lack of decisions…ultimately.