Person trying to make a decision

Meeting Hell: When Decision-Makers Can’t Decide

Sept. 23, 2017
The easiest way for a boss to gain the respect of subordinates is to make a decision and act on it.

Every working day, most of us spend way too much time in meetings.

And, while I suppose there is some value in getting everyone together, the vast majority of meetings are usually a waste of time.

This is usually due to no one making a decision about what to do next, except to schedule the next meeting.

 A few years back, M. David Dealy and I wrote the book Defining the Really Great Boss.

Our intention was to benchmark the characteristics a great boss possessed.

In surveys across 11 industries, we discovered five significant characteristics people valued in a boss.

Although each characteristic was vitally important, the ability to decide 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 make a decision and act on it.

Many folks told us that even if they didn't like their boss, or were unsure of their motives, they were still favorable towards their boss so long as they were regarded as a decider.

Interestingly, we discovered the outcomes of decisions were far less important than the fact that the decisions were taken in the first place.

In short, subordinates were quite likely to forgive a boss' mistake, so long as it was the result of decisive 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. Not being to decide was a death knell.

Without credibility, which stems from decisiveness, a boss is nothing it seems: a general with no troops, a coach with no players, a pastor with no warm bodies in the pews.

About the Author

Andrew R. Thomas | Bestselling business author & associate professor of marketing and international business

Andrew R. Thomas is Associate Professor of Marketing and International Business at the University of Akron; and, a bestselling author/editor of 25 books.

His newest work is The Canal of Panama and Globalization: Growth and Challenges in the 21st Century (2022).

His book The Distribution Trap: Keeping Your Innovations from Becoming Commodities was awarded the Berry-American Marketing Association Prize for the Best Marketing Book of 2010.

Andrew is founding editor-in-chief of the Journal of Transportation Security; contributing writer at Industry Week; and, a regularly featured analyst for media outlets around the world such as BBC, CNBC, and Wall Street Journal.

A successful global entrepreneur, Dr. Thomas was a principal in the first firm to ever export motor vehicles from China. He has traveled to and conducted business in 120 countries on all seven continents.

His personal website is

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