Leadership Skills: Decide Only Among Right Choices

A client recently told me, “To people who bring me decisions they don’t feel comfortable or empowered to make, I say, “Only bring me right decisions. I only want to choose between right and right.”

I liked that a lot and wanted to hear more.

He went on to explain that since he assumes he is choosing between “rights,” he will even ask the approaching employee to establish the criteria he should use in making the decision.

He says that at his level, all important decisions brought to him will involve trade-offs, including:

  • justice versus mercy
  • long term versus short term
  • truth versus loyalty, and
  • individual versus group

That’s deep and perceptive stuff. It shows a great deal of the Leadership Gift. Here’s how: he signals that he expects people in his group to make intentional decisions in the best interest of the group and company, and members of his group shouldn’t expect him to do their decision-making work for them.

If they bring him a decision to make, he expects it to be a decision appropriate for his role, and he expects his group to brief him on their homework. Third, he expects employees to eliminate “wrong” choices — choices that don’t fit the company’s value system.

He expects an employee to do the work to validate all escalated choices as reasonable (not to mention legal, ethical, and moral, I suppose) and would be disappointed with an employee who was afraid or unwilling to eliminate “wrong” choices because they were otherwise desirable in some way.

What a refreshing and empowering perspective. This client places considerable responsibility on himself to clearly communicate his — and the organization’s — value system so that people can turn those values into decision tools and clearly separate “wrong” from “right” choices.

In an upcoming post, I’ll describe how Partnerwerks associates treat judgments of “right” and “wrong.”

Get Started With This Week’s 5-Minute Stretch

Think about a difficult decision that you must make: do you have to choose between the poles of justice and mercy, long term and short term, truth and loyalty, or individual and group?

How does seeing these polarities influence your decision process? How can you sharpen your value-system into useful decision tools?

Leaders and coaches: Get Christopher’s best team building and leadership strategies collected over two-plus decades of solving teamwork problems for smart people. Attend the acclaimed Creating Results-Based Teams workshop, or get this FREE Special Report while it lasts: The Five Flawless Steps to Building a Strong Executive Leadership Team.

Christopher Avery, PhD, is a recognized authority on how individual and shared responsibility works in the mind and an advisor to leaders worldwide.

Posted in Collaboration, Leadership on 02/25/2013 01:17 am
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