Standing in front of a group of C-Suite leaders at InitiativeOne in downtown Green Bay, Wisconsin, Fred Johnson primed the group for a lively discussion. Johnson asserted that we have experienced a significant transformation in how companies are making decisions. His opening comments opened the door for an engaging conversation about leadership and the shift toward collaborative decision making.
Every transformation gives rise to serious implications, implications that affect outcomes, results and quality. A shift in decision making is no different. Traditionally, companies have made decisions with an emphasis on swift planning coupled with an expectation for resplendent execution and profitable results. The demand for speed has not lessened, but the price tag for leaving people out of the early stages of collaboration is becoming more costly.
Time is a critical factor. The phrase, “time is money” continues to exert pressure on decision makers. If time is money, then the allure of speed increases. Leaders feel the tension. Engaging others in decision making can be time consuming. Pressure mounts. Collaborative planning meetings can be tagged as a necessary evil. Meanwhile, leaders become anxious, even impatient, to move as quickly as possible toward execution and results.
Beware. If you believe that time is money, then time saving shortcuts can masquerade as increased efficiency. Efficiency, measured by time savings alone cultivates fertile soil for top down leadership to flourish. Few would question the initial time saving benefits of top down decision making. It’s quicker to limit discussion, champion decisiveness and make something happen. But, there are tradeoffs. A limited focus on speedy decision making limit learning. Also, it can trigger resistance among those who are given responsibility for execution.
Johnson challenged the leaders in the room to look beyond a short-sighted approach to decision making. As he enumerated some of the changes in leaders and organizations, Johnson encouraged the leaders, “Become comfortable with the fact that you do not have all the answers and your perspective is limited.“ Engaging others in the process increases ownership.
Johnson went on to explain the scope of efficient execution cannot be limited to time. Today’s leadership environment has a much broader perspective. Performance, quality, and time saving efficiency are just the beginning. What if you broaden your vision of efficiency to include creativity and innovation? How often do you measure of employee engagement, ownership and commitment? The goal of leadership is not compliant execution. It is much deeper. Great leaders reproduce great decision makers throughout the organization. Employees want to belong to a team characterized by high trust, high commitment and genuine ownership. These are qualities that are fostered through collaborative preparation and decision making.
Time is not the only currency. A sequential movement from planning to execution and results requires a different, organic approach. The way is becoming clearer. If you are serious about leadership transformation, gather your team and wrestle with a few questions:
- How have you underestimated the Time required to Create Ownership of Initiatives?
- How are you leveraging the power of Collaboration and Ownership to expand the problem-solving and decision-making capacity of the employees in your company?
- How are you cultivating Connection beyond Compliance?
- To what extent do your team members connect “Why” with “What”?
- When does Ego matter more than the End Product in your company?
- Where are the areas where Feedback does not flow freely in all directions?