Leaders – If You’re Making All the Decisions, Your Decision Making Process is Broken
Making decisions is a critical part of your job as the leader. Good decisions keep your team and company moving forward, and bad decisions hold you back. Think about how you can leverage your team to expand the decision making process on your team so that you are not trying to own all the decision making without any help. Delegating tasks and decisions are important for your team development.
Problems a Leader Faces When They’re Not Delegating Decisions
You become a bottleneck
There’s only so much time available for your team to get things done and you, the leader, have fixed capacity. If you’re bogged down with questions from your team as they then expect you to answer them all at a time, you are eating up that capacity and there isn’t any time left to work on the strategically important items that you own. Plus, if your team members are waiting for you to make decisions, their work will grind to a stop.
You miss out on different perspectives and insights
Goodness, I hope you’re not the smartest person on your team! As leaders you want to develop a team and bring in great resources who are way better than you. You need diversity in skills, backgrounds, the way people think, and you want them to challenge you. If you’re the one making all the decisions, you’re leaving value on the table, and your decisions may be suboptimal.
You are not developing your teams
You want your team members to get better – at their tasks and ability to take on more responsibility over time. Let them make decisions as you teach them an analytical approach to the decision making you want. Ask them, did you consider x? What if y happens? It’s OK to poke holes in their decision IF you are helping them develop their decision making.
You want their diverse perspectives, and you also want to know their decision making process is robust. As you gain confidence in their decisions, you can step back and be involved less.
How to Delegate Better
Delegating decisions isn’t the only leverage you have. Make sure you are delegating tasks to team members, too. Find ways to use everyone’s skills and match the tasks to the person.
If you’re a big picture thinker like I am, you’d better have some detailed people on your team to make sure they’re pulling you forward and making sure you’re seeing the details. Make assignments and let them take care of the details so you don’t have to worry about it.
Think about the management analogy of rocks, pebbles, and sand. Rocks are the big ideas, pebbles being the shorter-term goals, and the sand represents the details. Can you imagine if you were making all of the decisions at a “rock” level, and somebody is diving way down into the sand in their thinking? You’d be driving yourself crazy trying to make sure they understand the big picture!
Or, you may be on the opposite end of the spectrum and be excellent at the details and sometimes forget about the rocks. In that case, you’d better have an excellent team around you with that bigger vision.
Your job is developing your team, leveraging their skill, teaching them how you want things to be done, how to answer questions, and how to bring options to you.
3 Step Approach to Make Your Decision
Making More Efficient
Your team members can come with a question or a decision to make, as long as they also come with a suggested answer as well. Imagine if you had to start from scratch, and for everything they brought, you had to dive into the sand? It could take you an hour per each question they ask, and now nothing gets done (except intellectual conversations).
Instead, teach your team members to bring you a question with the decision options and a recommendation.
Lay out the question to answer or problem to solve with a clear problem statement.
Describe the top options, with data to back it up
Share the recommendation, with the analysis to back it up
Now, your job becomes pretty easy. You might probe with a question here and there for clarification or to demonstrate what you’re expecting them to have covered. Over time, you will gain confidence that your team members anticipated everything you would have asked and did their homework.
As you develop your teams, rather than making decisions, simply ask them what decision they would make if they were you. Let them answer and then give them permission to implement the one they suggested!
You are Still Accountable
As a leader, you don’t have to be the one who’s making all of the decisions. However, you are the person who is accountable and responsible for good quality decisions. You have the burden on your shoulders to make sure that your team is growing in their capability, growing in their confidence and excelling in working together and with you to help you be more productive. No more bottleneck! That way things flow through the whole team and you’re moving at a much faster pace, getting more work done, and thriving as a result.
Communicate and get your team on board with your purpose, goals, direction, and roles, and you will find that this alignment will eliminate you from having to make decisions where you need to redirect other people’s decisions.
Sure, leadership decision making is important – but the decision making process doesn’t have to be that the leader makes all the decisions in isolation. Your team development will bear fruit over time as team members begin to step up and take ownership.
About the Author: Pete Winiarski
Peter D. Winiarski is the founder and CEO of Win Enterprises, LLC. He is a speaker and the author or contributing author of seven Amazon best-selling books on business transformation, consulting, leadership, and goal achievement.
His company, Win Enterprises, LLC, helps business leaders transform their results for themselves and their companies. The Win team of resources are experts in business transformation, organizational culture, leadership, and goal achievement, and are highly skilled consultants and executive mentors.
Win’s clients experience fast results, lasting change, and huge ROI working with Pete’s team.