There is a growing understanding that leadership doesn’t work well when leaders go at it alone. The stories we’ve read about leaders coming in and acting as solitary heroes may only be what they are: stories. And that might be due to the responsibility that comes with being a leader. The responsibility linked to making a decision stays with the leader. But it doesn’t mean that the decision-making process or leadership itself should be solitary.
Engaging others in leadership or decision-making doesn’t transform them into decision-makers or leaders. It involves them. It contributes to building a relationship between those who will execute the leadership and the leader. It builds an understanding of what the leader looks for and what the teams can help with.
But it is hard work. I hear this frequently when coaching leaders.
They often see themselves as lone leaders and rarely see how much of the information they use is based on beliefs or interpretations. In essence, they find it hard to involve others or to gather information from others.
What some will do instead is ask their teams if they are ok with the suggested decisions.
In doing so, they underestimate how challenging their teams might find it to respond to a suggested decision. They will see themselves as having involved their teams, but they actually only checked their team’s willingness to take a position against them.
Involving teams is also about developing the ability to learn how a decision can impact a team and what consequences it has. It also requires leaders to learn more about the emotional impact change has on a team and what needs emerge from there. That also includes how the almost automatic reaction of leaders to reassure others very often is misdirected.