It happened again and again: the impasse, talking in circles, limited information. In my early years, I thought all I needed was the best available information and some clear logic to make the best decision. Every good leader wants logic and information for important decisions.

But as I watched leaders who were consistently effective, I began to notice something else. Leading well eventually required more than the available information. The best leaders could sense when that point had been reached.

Instead of expecting to always have the final answer themselves, or otherwise forcing the issue to closure, they almost always paused—a moment behind closed eyes, a call for prayer, a break in the meeting, a bit of humor, seeking words from someone who had been silent. The list of methods was endless.

These leaders did not seem burdened or concerned when they exhausted knowledge and reason. The ragged edge that scared others seemed actually to assure them and guide them to ...

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