Darryl Stewart
By Darryl Stewart
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Forget the leadership sound bite

One of the most common ways that decisions get made in organizations is the method in which a team has their input, and the leader makes the final call.

You can call this authoritarian or, more kindly, you can call it participative decision making.

dice displaying word "no"
Photo by Anne Lise-Heinrichs

People don’t really mind this style of leadership in the right situation. What they do mind is when leaders like ourselves pretend the decision will be a group one and then we decide to contradict the group consensus. “Why do we even bother?” is the common reaction and next time we’re more likely to get silence than real input.

The way to keep the honest input coming while avoiding negative feelings is to be open and honest about your true intentions. Let the team know up front that this is your decision, not theirs. Let them know that there may be other factors that come into the decision but that their honest feedback and input into the process is important and very much appreciated.

It is okay to say “I need to make a decision about this and I would really like your input first,” instead of “guys we need to make a decision about this.” The second way may sound better, but if the first one is the honest answer: use it.

Honesty trumps a nice sound bite every time.