Guest blog by AmyK Hutchens, AmyK International, Inc.
Imagine if you could get your team on board to work in concert and change the future of your company for the better. What if, in the process, you were also able to give them a greater sense of worth and to inspire them to work toward new goals as a team?
Which enhancements to our product or service will make the biggest difference? How can we cut costs? Do things better, faster? Stand out from the competition? Every day you are faced with a myriad of challenges in making important decisions, creating innovative plans and taking action! The most critical of these steps is the initial decision you make, and I’m here to let you in on a secret to success – the best decisions are often not made alone. By charting the path alone and expecting your team to follow you are missing out, not only on important feedback, but on using the decision-making process to gain buy-in and acceptance. Instead, you will be amazed at the options that will arise when you give your team D’s.
The most valuable discussions are those of dialogue as opposed to dissertation, and the most productive dialogues occur in two steps.
- First, state the opportunity in clear, un-biased terms. With a mindset of respect and equality (organizational hierarchy has no place here), encourage free-thinking and sharing from the team members about how best to maximize this opportunity if it should even be pursued. Provoke constructive controversy and resist any propensity for judgmental commentary. Seek to stretch perspective beyond the status quo and mitigate potentially limiting beliefs. Doing this step first will engender thoughtful regard and trust among the team members and open the door to creativity and innovation.
- Second, add structure to the dialogue. Take a closer look at each of the contributions to the discussion so far and apply objective questions to all of them. What are the potential consequences, intended and otherwise; who will be involved and feel the effects, for better or worse; what’s the value of the “extraordinary” opportunity to all those involved? Think of this step as a culling process where the most valid contributions are identified and clarified for subsequent debate.
Having shared an intellectually curious, thoughtful discussion, it’s time to take sides – literally. Debate is essentially a well-reasoned, respectful, even passionate argument. Debate the proposed positions and discussion points from each plausible perspective. The goal is discovery. Through deep inquiry, clear and thorough presentation and thoughtful rebuttal, answers to questions that otherwise would not likely come to mind are brought to light. Perhaps even more revealing is the discovery of questions behind the questions – the things you were unaware you didn’t know. Debate where and how a proposed course of action might fail, how it might succeed, is it even feasible, and so on. And, above all else, listen with the same intensity others reserve for speaking. It will pay dividends even beyond the decision you choose.
Finally, after all the discussion and enlightened debate, it’s time to choose. This does not mean defeat nor acquiescence for anyone. For even those who “lost” the debate will ultimately win with a great decision made. It means to commit – completely and clear-mindedly for everyone. This is not a place for compliance. Commitment necessitates regard for the process you’ve completed and respect for the people with whom you’ve processed. What does this look like down the road? Unity of command – when in the moment the decision that was made is challenged by circumstances or individuals, you stand by the decision you made as a team and present it as your own, without caveat or condition.
How will you know your decision was the “right” decision and even a great decision? Fair question – perhaps not the best question, however. The more compelling question is, “How will you lead in the wake of the decision you made?” Great leaders do far more than make great decisions. They deal with consequences, they focus, they listen, they navigate the unpredictable course of life, and in so doing they inspire those they lead to make their own great decisions as well.
With presentations to 30,000+ executives in eight countries, AmyK Hutchens serves as an Intelligence Activist and business strategist to leaders around the globe. She is a former senior EVP of Operations for a leading sales and marketing firm, Director of Education for Europe and Australia for a 900 million dollar consumer products company, and chosen member of National Geographic's Educator Advisory Committee. To learn more about her firm’s proprietary Leadership Links program please visit www.amyk.com. Follow AmyK on Twitter @AmyKinc or visit at www.amyk.com. http://www.amyk.com.