“There are many qualities that make a great leader. But having strong beliefs, being able to stick with them through popular and unpopular times, is the most important characteristic of a great leader”.
—Rudy Giuliani  

Have you ever been faced with making, and communicating, an unpopular decision? One that doesn’t feel good, but must occur?

Most of us work in a “for profit” environment, and the decisions we make support achieving results and growing our business.

Changes, whether popular or unpopular need to be communicated. Think about what channel of communication you will use. Face to face is best, but not always possible. What would be most effective, from both the perspective of the message sender, and the receiver?

We have young adult children and they share stories about personal relationships being ended by a simple text message.  We suppose it gets the job done, but is certainly not ideal.

For those of you that are football fans, super star quarterback Peyton Manning was released from the Indianapolis Colts.  Manning took the Colts to the playoffs 11 times, captured seven AFC South titles in eight years, won two AFC championships, one Super Bowl title and a Super Bowl MVP Award.  So why was the unpopular decision made?  Manning missed the entire 2011 season due to injuries (he had 3 neck surgeries in 19 months), and although “okayed” medically to play this year, there was still a health risk. As a result, the decision was made to release him instead of paying a $28 million bonus that he was eligible for.

Leadership requires courage, and yes, making unpopular decisions is part of it.

Here are some tips for communicating any decision:

  • State why the decision needed to be made
  • Indicate who will be impacted because of the decision
  • Anticipate and prepare for questions and opposition
  • Openly discuss both positive and negative impacts
  • Listen and feel!

As a leader, you need to be open and you need to build trust in your organization, especially during times of uncertainty and when unpopular decisions must be made.