Great leadership decision-making inspires more than action—it infuses your entire organization with enthusiasm, direction, and purpose. Leadership decision-making isn’t just about saying “yes” or “no”, nor is it about issuing orders, ideas and directions. It starts with agreement and alignment in the C-Suite about the most important decisions and radiates out to the entire organization.
Several years ago, we visited the corporate headquarters of Dial Corporation, which was located in Scottsdale, AZ. We entered a beautiful new building with an impressive lobby, but what won our hearts was the sign on the receptionist’s desk. It had her name and title: “Director of First Impressions.” Right there, at reception, they set the tone for our entire visit and every employee entering the building.
Mushroom Management or Micromanagement
Too many leaders and C-Suite executives, whether intentionally or not, resort to that old euphemism, “Mushroom Management.” Which, in case you never heard it before, means, “Keep them in the dark and occasionally throw manure on them.”
If your team isn’t clearly aligned on your company’s identity, purpose and values your other option is micromanagement. You’ll have to continually monitor everything they’re doing to get the outcome you want. This becomes a vicious circle: Your team doesn’t know the results you want so you have to constantly monitor and direct them which means you have to focus on your team instead of the results.
We’re exhausted just writing that…
Leadership Alignment and Agreement
You probably think that your team knows what you believe is most important. Perhaps. But beyond what you want there is an overarching outcome you need. Imagine you go to a store to buy a new business suit. The salesperson asks what you want and you just say, “A new suit.” Seems simple enough. But beyond that is the reason why you want it: You want a suit that says something about you professionally. If instead of saying, “I want a new suit,” you tell the salesperson, “I want a business suit that reflects well on both me and my organization,” it changes the choices the salesperson is going to show you and the options you’re going to try on. Equally important, it focuses their job and saves both of you time and wasted effort pulling suits out that doesn’t meet your needs.
Leadership Starts Here
True leadership decision-making starts with your Identity and Values which lead to defining and agreeing on your Purpose, Vision, and Mission. Which in turn leads to your Goals and Strategy. If your team doesn’t know what those are and haven’t been part of their development, you’re leading a team operating under their own set of beliefs.
We know someone who was the respected CEO of a global advertising agency; admired by his clients, his staff, and his team. When you spoke with people who’d worked for him they almost all had the same comment: “He’s like the Drum Major leading a college marching band. He’s got that shiny gold mace and the tall, bearskin cap. He strikes up the band and leads them onto the field—striding ahead of them three yards at a time. But he forgets to look back to see if the band is following.”
If all of your direct reports were involved in the development of your company’s Strategic Process and every one of them agreed on your Purpose, Vision, and Mission, how much faster and easier could you reach your goals? And not just faster, but better as well. Instead of a team that “meets expectations,” how much better would it be to have a team that “exceeds expectations” in every aspect of their jobs? Now imagine they conduct a similar session with their direct reports. And so on. So that even the person at the front desk was inspired by and infused with your Vision, Values, and Goals for the company.
Get Everyone on the Same Page
At least four times a year, get your entire leadership team out of their silos for a refresher look at where you’re going and how you’re doing getting there. And not just next week or next month, but your overarching Vision, Mission, and Values. These shouldn’t just be words in your Annual Report or your Team Training Manual. They should be ideas and ideals that fuel everyone’s enthusiasm and imagination.
When people become stakeholders in their organization’s leadership Vision, Mission, and Values, it energizes them in ways no simple pep talk can. They believe in what you’re trying to do because they helped you shape that vision and they’re engaged in getting the results.
Chip Heath & Dan Heath in their excellent business best-seller Made to Stick tell the story of Herb Kelleher, a founder and then CEO of Southwest Airlines. According to the story, Kelleher told one of his C-Suite executives, “I can teach you the secret to running this airline in thirty seconds: We are THE low-fare airline. Once you understand that fact, you can make any decision about this company’s future as well as I can.” His example? A marketing executive comes to you and says surveys show passengers would enjoy chicken salad instead of just peanuts on their Southwest Airlines flights. Kelleher said, “Will adding a chicken salad to the menu make us THE low-fare airline from Houston to Las Vegas? Because if it doesn’t then we are not serving any damn chicken salad.”
So the question we ask is: Are you wasting company time, money, and resources serving chicken salad to your customers?
The Leadership Decision Making Process
For our clients, the answer to that last question is, “Not anymore.” Optimize International has been getting C-Suite teams on the same page and empowering the CEO decision-making process for years now. The first time they do it, we often uncover 30 or more different ideas of what everyone thinks is important and where the organization is going. At the end of the session, they’re in alignment with a shared Vision, Mission, and Values – driving goals they didn’t think were possible.
When everyone’s working towards the same end, it’s extraordinary what can be accomplished…
To learn more on how to optimize your decision-making process, schedule an intro call at OptimizeCalendar.com
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