In the last article I explored how leaders can sometimes feel alone due to the nature of the decisions they make. Now I will look at a simple way to improve the quality of decisions.
In many ways, organizations are very efficient entities. “Watercooler conversations” drive a shared view of things that either get in people’s way or move the organization forward. The most effective leaders are really good at staying connected to the ‘pulse’ of the organization through questioning. They know what is being said at the watercooler.
To make better timed and more effective decisions, great leaders ask questions about the ‘context’ and the details of a decision. If you want a great book on great questions, try this one.
One of the leaders we work with taps into the pulse of his organization really effectively. When he knows he needs to take some action, he thinks about all the implications of that action. He gathers facts and asks his team to do the appropriate analysis, then he starts talking to people.
This leader doesn’t tell everyone about the decision he needs to make. Instead he asks people how they are feeling, what might be concerning them, what they think the organization needs and what they value most in the organization. He asks people at every level and in many settings. The answers to these questions tell him a lot about what people would like to see changed and what they are hoping will be maintained. As he does this, he gains a strong sense of pulse of the organization he leads. He makes big, complicated decisions when it is clear to him that he has thought through the context and when he feels a ground swell of desire for the change he knows he needs to make.
Any leader can get a sense of the pulse of an organization through questioning even those who are new to leadership. The more connected a leader, the more effective. But, it is a very fine balance — leaders need to listen to others but the decisions are still theirs. And their resolve must be strong in the face of criticism: http://impact-coaches.com/leading-with-impact-leadership-is-lonely/
In my next article, I will explore how leaders can improve decision timing. Stay tuned.