The leader gets to decide how to decide. Think about that a little. I’d also encourage you to consider how leaders you’ve worked with have decided. There are a lot of options. Some of which are more inclusive than others. Recognize the choice they made and the impact on you and the organization.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each. If we think from a spectrum perspective, let's say on the very left side is the authoritative stance. I decide on my own and take action. Or I could inform the rest of the leadership team of what I am doing, or I could consult with them…maybe even engaging them in the process. But I still decide.
But truly, as the leader I get to decide how I want to decide. Maybe doing this on my own for some reason actually is the best strategy for me and the organization and the team right now. I have to deal with the sense of shock, confusion and betrayal my team might experience. I do need to understand and manage the consequences of my decision and the way I decided.
Or I could choose to be more inclusive; there are options. I could have several viable candidates and we use the democratic method; we vote with the majority winning.
I could also try to seek a consenting approach, meaning I ask everyone to default to buying in and supporting the majority decision and to only speak up if they can’t live with a decision. Lastly, I could choose to decide by consensus, meaning everyone has to agree. While the most collaborative option, this approach is time consuming, fraught with possible emotions and biases, particularly in a high stake’s decision.
To be a more inclusive leader, I get to choose a democratic, consenting or consensus option. And again, also to know the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Now, let’s look at it through the lens of the team. I think the really important message here is that most times, these processes happen without thought, planning and discussion. Because if I am that collaborative and inclusive leader then you also have some responsibility in the decision-making process, Again, think of this as a spectrum from left to right. On the left side, you’re in favor of, or support the decision. The next choice is, you’re okay with the decision, but you have reservations. The third option is mixed feelings. Or lastly, I have the right to veto the candidate—this is the very right side of the continuum, where I cannot accept the decision. In this case as well, it's important to be thoughtful, articulate, and clear about the why. Being able to explain my rationale and choice.
In your team, are you deciding intentionally? As a leader you have choices from:
· Authoritative: fully own/do; inform; consult
· Collaborative: democratic; consent; consensus
And if you are participating in collaborative decision making, you could have the following spectrum of choices:
· In favor of
· Okay with reservations (communicated)
· Mixed feelings (supported with thoughts, examples, specifics)
· Not in favor, but will commit/support
The important message here is that in the absence of deciding how to decide, the leader typically chooses, and sometime people judge those choices. Maybe because they want more input, maybe because they truly disagree, maybe because the leader does it differently every time, and it’s confusing and disempowering.
Decide how to decide so that in the leadership team (or any team) the decision is more effectively supported. Decide to decide so that decision is implemented respectfully, effectively, and sustainably.
Decide the Leader you want to be!