Include Others in Complex Decisions

April 22, 2018
Mary Jo Asmus

You are smart and confident, traits that have helped you to be a successful leader. Yet these traits have a dark side that can work against you, causing you to be less effective. Some leaders have failed when they are certain their smarts will be enough, especially when situations requiring action are complex with high stakes. They may have relied on themselves too much when they need to bring others into making the best decision.

The truth is that almost everything a leader does has more than one possible solution and including others in a decision is the best way to ensure it’ll be the right one.

The good news is that you have a lot of smart people around you who can provide you with wise counsel. They’ll be willing to help if you let your guard down and open up enough to consider their ideas.

If you’ve been isolated and unwilling to include others in your decisions in the past, now is the time to be humble and ask for their input. You’ll need to change how you approach them as well as your internal mindset to one that allows you to consider all options.

Some or all of these tactics might work to help you make complex decisions:

Doubt your certainty and switch into a learning mode while asking others for their insight on the decision you need to make. Cast a wide net by asking yourself who can you include in your thinking that you haven’t yet. They may well have your organization’s best interests in mind, and you need to consider their advice.

Listen well to the concerns and ideas of others. At least for now, set your judgements of them and their ideas aside. Open your ears and your mind. Ask questions about why they think their suggestions are important (and continue to dive deeper with additional questions – that’s where the gems are often found!).

Consider all options you hear, weighing the pros and cons of each. A simple exercise in facilitating the uncovering of a list of pros and cons with a team or group will give you more diversity of thought. Other leaders find that using polarity management may cut through complexity in a different and sometimes more effective way.

Discuss the final decision while still considering it a “draft” before proceeding with stakeholders who will be affected. Let them know “the why” of your solution or decision and listen to what they have to say about it. You just might need to tweak something before moving forward.

Proceed cautiously as you begin with your solution. Proceeding carefully with high stakes solutions might allow you to turn back or change course if things aren’t working the way you thought they would. Check in with those who are doing the work and listen to their thoughts about any course corrections that may need to be made.

The bottom line here is that some decisions are just better when you include others.

More From Mary Jo Asmus

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Mary Jo Asmus is an executive/leadership coach whose work spans decades of making a difference in the lives of hundreds of executives, leaders and teams in Fortune 500, mid- and small- sized business, governments and nonprofits. She focuses on facilitating individuals and teams from first-line supervisor to the C-suite to create, develop, and influence the relationships that can make them extraordinary.

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