A few years back, M. David Dealy and I wrote Defining the Really Great Boss.
Our intention in the book was to benchmark the characteristics a great boss possessed. In our surveys across 11 industries, we discovered five common themes.
Although each characteristic was important, decisiveness was far and away number one.
More conventional components of leadership like charisma, emotional intelligence, listening skills, likeability, and even integrity, all paled to action.
We found time and time again that the easiest way for a boss to gain the respect of their subordinates was to act.
Many folks told us that even if they didn't like their boss, or were unsure of the motives, they were still cool if the boss was known for doing things and leading.
Interestingly, we discovered the outcomes of decisions were far less important than the fact that the decisions were taken in the first place. Subordinates were quite likely to forgive a boss' mistake, so long as it was the result of action.
Conversely, we learned the quickest way for a boss to lose credibility was to fail to "push the button" when necessary. To wait for no reason, call for more meetings, or vacillate. These were the death knells of leadership.
Without credibility, which stems from decisiveness, a boss is nothing a general with no troops, a coach with no players, a pastor with no warm bodies in the pews.