“I’ll think about it.”

If you are in a leadership position, this short sentence should be your default answer to just about any request or presented idea. This was the go-to response from France’s King Louis XIV who reigned for 72 years. “I’ll think about it” gives you room to do just that without leaving the other person feeling cast aside. Most decisions we make do not need to be made right now; this response allows you the space to perform the kind of slow thinking required to make good, balanced judgments.

It is too easy to be swayed by an individual during conversation. People can be charismatic, charming, and are inherently driven—at least to some degree—by personal interest. I’m sure we’ve all had moments of leaving a conversation swayed, nodding our heads in full agreement only to feel that certainty seep away a few minutes/hours/days later—that’s the power of the person. That is what you need to remove yourself from before making big decisions. Maybe they aren’t driven by self-serving motives, but we still need a little time and distance to see through the veil and better determine our stance on the topic. Maybe now you see there are selfish motives behind the original presentation, maybe what sounded wonderful at the moment now leaves you with a sense of foreboding and discomfort. So agree to nothing in the heat of the moment. Just tell them, “I’ll think about it.” No one wins, no one loses.

The key to this approach, though, is to actually think about whatever the pitch may have been. Take some time and really work over the idea presented. View it from multiple angles and with multiple variables. Do a little research on your own, form your thoughts and options. Discuss the idea with a couple of trusted peers to get different external angles. Then, most importantly, when you’ve made your decision, don’t waste any more time talking about it—act upon it. Let your actions communicate your decision. If someone has presented a new policy idea that you’ve decided would be beneficial, enact it. If someone wants to see a change in a procedure, change it. Don’t get caught up in further argument or continued conversations—these are simply forms of procrastination. You’ve put the thought into it, act on it. Actions speak much louder than words anyway. Give yourself room to think, decide, and act without hesitation.

 

The value of reading cannot be overstated, especially for those in leadership positions. In a world engineered by 30-second news clips, Instagram stories, and 280-character assaults, reading is the perfect escape. While books are not a perfect teaching vehicle in and of themselves, they are penny-for-penny one of the best investments one can make towards their accrual of knowledge and wisdom. But, this wisdom is not gained through history books or management books alone.

Reading fiction is more than just escaping into an alternate reality, getting lost in the lives and adventures of others, or a method for calming the mind before going to sleep. Reading fiction is an excellent means for gaining one of the key traits of good leaders: empathy. Being able to put yourself in others’ positions, to feel what they’re feeling, think what they’re thinking—what author Robert Greene refers to as thinking inside others—is paramount to being an effective leader. Reading books like David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest will help someone understand addiction and mental illness better than any textbook or psychology class could ever come close to. Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano give you deep insight to what someone can feel when they lose the feeling of value in their life and work.

Cultivating an intuitive understanding of lives other than your own can only help in making you a more effective leader. A leader who is not only obeyed but is respected and appreciated. Get outside yourself, get outside the popular management and pop-psychology books and dig into some fiction. Expand your world and become better at thinking inside.