Just because you CAN make a decision as a leader doesn’t necessarily mean you SHOULD. The paradox of leadership is, YOU must be making decisions and empowering OTHERS to be making decisions. It’s what leaders do. However, with a few disciplines and small changes, you can influence your decision impact mojo significantly.
The upside of decisions being made are good ones, you build credibility, trust, momentum and the confidence of the team and people who surround you. The downside is, the more you make decisions that don’t end well, that confidence and trust in your leadership is eroded.
Trust me, I have been at both ends of the decision-making spectrum, and I admit, right up front, that it’s a movable feast and rarely if ever, the same each time. That said, these five steps can really add to your ability to make a decision with your team, that gains traction more quickly, and serves the vision of the organisation not just the power of your position.
Questions to ask before you make the decision:
- Who needs to sit ‘at the table’ while this decision is being made?
- Is this an urgent ‘make it now’ call, or a strategic ‘involve others’ decision?
- What are the likely positive impacts of this decision?
- What are the potential negative impacts of this decision?
- Is this decision about the organisation, or is it just me exercising my power?
- Who needs to be part of the conversation, before the decision?
- Do the people tasked with executing this decision, have the capacity to do so?
- Have I asked my most trusted advisors what they think?
Develop a culture of “iron sharpening iron.”
As a leader, learning the art of ‘mutual submission’ is critical in assessing decision impact. Of course, you can be master and commander, CEO and primary driver of the dream… just not forever.
Give your team the privilege of two things. One, making the call for themselves. Let them see and feel the weight of decision-making and back them all the way. Secondly, have a group you refer to for wisdom and insight BEFORE the decision is made. Lean heavily on that group and trust each other implicitly.
Develop a team that says yes! (And no)
This is both simple, and difficult at the same time. I am a quick, intuitive and direct decision maker. It takes nanoseconds for me to figure out both what I want and what I think is the right thing to do. This is good and not so good. It’s good because decisions don’t take too long. It’s not so good because others feel less involved in the process.
To build on the strengths of this, I have created a team of ‘Yes People’. If they say yes, we do it. If they say no, we don’t. NO MATTER WHAT MY OPINION IS ON THE MATTER.
Teach your team to make you a partner in the solution.
In the post on leading up, we discussed how to give your leader enough time to become part of the solution, not the problem itself. Many a time, team members should have enlisted me earlier in the decision-making process so I could leverage my time, resource, perspective and experience. Leaving it too late makes it a scramble for everyone. Never that helpful.
Create a culture where it is not just ok to discuss hard topics, but mandatory. Develop a way to invite the feedback and response. Ask the “What if” questions to make sure all options have been explored. Have your “Yes (and no) Team” ready, willing and able to step up when needed. Ask your team to ask early and ask often. That way we leverage the best of us.
Make the leadership decisions only you can make. Team base the rest.
One of the most helpful ways to serve decisions mojo is to place a time limit on how much and how long the matter will be discussed. This creates an artificial urgency and helps people trust what they really think and believe. Develop your leadership skills to force the time frames, and trust each other’s opinions and perspectives. Good pressure is good. Develop a confidence in your intuition. Get feedback quickly, and change when you need to.
Also, hold closely the decisions that are yours alone. Don’t make them alone, just be clear about what is on your list. This is rarely a place of power, and more likely a case of stewardship and responsibility. These are often the most challenging decisions in an organisation, and ones you, as THE leader, must carry ahead of almost everyone else.
#onestepleadership | A Big Vision To Make Leadership Smaller