Effective Leadership Decision-Making Habits
Episode #8 of the course Increasing your leadership potential by Bob McGannon
How you go about making decisions has a substantial bearing on how you are perceived as a leader. Leaders set direction and are always concerned about their teams and how decisions may affect them. Establishing good decision-making habits solidifies a positive reputation and can help your business in numerous ways. Here are my top tips for decision making.
The highest rated leaders, in my experience, are those who collaborate with their teams to make good decisions. The key, however, is how they collaborate. While it is convenient when all parties agree, good leaders understand that people are going to have various opinions. They listen to those opinions carefully and are willing to adopt or even change their mind about the decision they are about to make.
They don’t, however, rely on a unanimous opinion prior to making decisions. Depending on the magnitude of the decision, they may strive for that nirvana but don’t necessarily make that a prerequisite to decide on a course of action. Leaders need to weigh the timeliness needed by the organization and balance that need against a perceived need for consensus. Sometimes, leaders will also collaborate with a subset of their team members, which is the core concept of my second tip.
Collaborating too extensively or always doing so with your entire team can be burdensome and cause frustration for team members. In some instances, only a few team members will be genuinely interested in a decision, and others will “go with the flow.” In other instances, due to the expertise of some team members, their opinion will weigh more highly than others, so the wise leader will collaborate only with those specific employees.
While efficient and often appropriate, care should be given with selectively consulting with a subset of your team members. You could be perceived as “having favorites” and not valuing the contribution of others. When certain team members have significant expertise and the team knows that, it isn’t typically a problem. However, if that is not the case, ensure that you have clear, defensible rationale should you collaborate with only a few of your team members.
Ensure Decisions Are Made and Are Clear
Nothing erodes the perception of leadership more than a lack of decision making. When a decision needs to be made and you have the authority to do so, make the decision! Review it with the team to ensure that they understand your rationale and confirm their understanding of the result for the team and your company. If you do not have the authority to make the decision, good leaders will provide meaningful input to the responsible leader who is missioned with the decision making and will also provide support to ensure that the rationale and outcomes of the decision are clearly communicated.
Learn and Change Your Mind
Flip-flopping—making a decision and then frequently changing that decision a short time thereafter—can be as bad as not deciding at all. Stick with your decisions, unless it is absolutely clear that you decided incorrectly. In that case, sticking with a decision you made that does not yield the expected outcomes is misplaced stubbornness.
If you decided incorrectly, be honest about that and discuss the ramifications of changing your decision with your team and manager. Understand how to transition from the situation the bad decision brought to bear, to the outcome you intended. Share the altered decision, admit you were wrong, and—most importantly—what you learned from the scenario and how you will alter your decision making in the future. This demonstrates your leadership and your ability to work with integrity, not letting pride get in the way of the best team outcomes.
Good decision-making sets you up for today—planning effectively sets you up for tomorrow. That will be the next topic I address in the next email.
Make it a great day!
Judgment: How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls by Noel M. Tichy and Warren G. Bennis
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