As I’ve taken on more leadership positions, I’ve had to redefine my decision-making process to accommodate new challenges and find a balance between individual and group decisions. It has taken some practice, but I now feel my decisions are best when they are a product of groupthinking.
When decisions are made by us as individuals, they can be an empowering exercise of autonomy. But leaders must make decisions based on input from their teams and organizations – these decisions are an entirely different beast. Here are some strategies I’ve used:
- Evaluate Decisions: Decision-making is a skill and like any other skill it must be honed, sharpened, and refined after each use. If you’re not evaluating the decisions made then nothing is learned from the decision. Upon completion of a project, ask teams to discuss which things they would do again and which things they would not. Reflecting on the decisions made and their results allows you to make better decisions during the next project.
- Accept Mistakes: Mistakes happen and they should be thought of as learning opportunities. A good leader knows when to be flexible enough to allow for the possibility of mistakes and what actions to take to move past them. When bad decisions happen, don’t make everyone suffer the consequences. Be okay with restarting. Sometimes you have to do things the wrong way before you do them the right way.
- Give Autonomy: When people are in control of the decisions they make and responsible for their consequences, they are more likely to exercise good judgment. Strong cultures are built on trust, so give people the space they need to make decisions on their own. They may surprise you with what they come up with and how they handle situations.
- Temper Decisions: While decision-making autonomy is important, it is also sometimes important to allow the influence of a group or organization to temper the decision-making process. An organization can boost its employees’ capacity for good judgment and improve the chances they will make sound decisions.
Have the groups you’ve been involved in made better or worse decisions? What strategies have you used to temper the decision-making process of a group?