Friday, June 24, 2011

The Decisive Officer

Officers do need to be able to be decisive. They need to be decisive, however, when the circumstances warrant it. In battle, in emergencies and in certain situations where people are being put under pressure thenecessity for decisive action is readily apparent. 

On other occasions being decisive, where being decisive means making a swift decision, is the very opposite of what is needed. A process of slow and thorough consultation and thought may be more appropriate to the situation. If the officer tries to 'be decisive' in these sorts of circumstances he may end up failing to get commitment from his team, may overlook problems and solutions to those problems, may fail to take the best or the most creative decision and will certainly fail to attain the objective or goal.

The officer also needs to be flexible in decision making. That will involve being ready to change or alter a decision that has been taken. It will also involve, on some occasions, hardly taking 'a decision' at all but deciding merely to proceed until options and paths become clearer.

Being a decisive officer is important. But being decisive is appropriate only in certain situations. Far more important than being decisive alone is the ability to know when to be decisive in its classical sense and when to take decisions in a less 'decisive' way. Training will be needed for officers to develop the different types of decision making.


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