Your subordinates may have better answers than you.
Most of the time managers assume that they have all the solutions and the decisions are always at their end. Most discussions of decision making assume that only leaders and managers make decisions. This is a dangerous mistake as once written by Peter Drucker.
As a manager or leader, it is insane to think that you hold all the answers and you have all the information for a decision. It is quite common in managers to assume that their subordinates do not get the right answers or they do not have a right decision at their end for any given situation. This just goes to prove the old adage that “to assume” is making an ass out of you and me!! When you make an assumption of having a better information than the people at the ground reality, you just end up making an ass of yourself. Accepting the fact that your team on the ground has a better grip on the situation than you and hence can contribute to decision making or can make better decisions is humility that every leader / manager must embrace.
It takes an effort for a leader to capitalize on his subordinate’s decision-making skills. Often I find myself as a creator of a system or process at work, and then bringing the team inside it to accept the same and then allow them to start living the system. While they breathe work as per the process that I set in, they come across numerous terrain that I never thought of or encountered while building it. And the beauty is they not only find those lacunae but have answers to resolve them as well. In a way, I end up creating a creator. This is a beautiful feeling. I get excited when my team come up with answers and alternative options as I see that the brain is at work and they are not tied to their desks doing mundane work but are embracing their share of responsibilities wholeheartedly.
It is interesting to navigate your team member’s mind and see how they open up with better decisions at work. Many managers fail in finding this distinctive potential in some of their team members. The only way to get your team members come forward with the decisions for an issue is by being with them when resolving an issue. These days’ youngsters come with a world view and have been exposed to many situations in their life making them capable of making their own decisions. Situations could be complex and a manager would most often think and feel that only his experience can find a practical solution, forgetting the fact that his immediate subordinate or some of the other team members in the team could bring in a better decision at times.
As a leader with experience, it is quite natural for anyone to disregard the talent of his immediate subordinate or his team down the line when faced with complex decision-making situations, but to have that conscious mind to listen to them, expecting a logical decision is a skill that every manager or leader should work on.
As a leader, one must respect his team’s potential and, however, silly it may sound, listen to their ideas, thoughts and nurture them. For all you know they are also talented and have a God given brain to think and act. They have better solutions to issues and situations often. However, in the world outside where some managers or leaders wear a robe of “I know more than you” attitude fails to see the bright light near them.
The best thing that a manager can do is to involve his team whenever a situation needs to be resolved. While you may have an answer you think is right for a situation in front of you, ask probing questions, give them time and you will see how engagement and sense of ownership take birth.
Often I have practiced throwing challenges to my team and it could be just simply asking them to design a new format. I enjoy seeing them besetting their brain, driving their thoughts and then beautifully crafting one. No matter how inaccurate the result is, it’s still a brain’s work and it opens up an opportunity for you to work further on their development. However, their work could make you think of a scenario which you otherwise wouldn’t have thought of. Here comes the learning from your own team. Here is realizing that they have better solutions than you here is knowing that they too make better decisions.
Everyone at your team is making decisions at their work and shaping them to make better decisions as you would have otherwise made or building a curiosity to invite their decisions on issues is a skill that a leader must cultivate.
Shifting your team mindset from a bunch of talents following instructions to talents contributing for a shared objective is what would unleash their potential to be decision makers.
Lastly, the decisions emanating from your team has a better buy in and success of a leader is certain in such cases.
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