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Make better team Decisions Using The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®
Every leader is faced with decisions. From small day-to-day decisions to larger strategic decisions, decision-making is one of the most important tasks of a leader. While many decisions can be made independently, sometimes a leader needs input from members of his or her team.
The Leadership Challenge® model, based on the book with the same name by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, offers guidance to help leaders involve their constituents so that they will achieve a better result.
Here are four steps a leader can use to make decisions in alignment with the team:
Step 1: Set the foundation with values
One way a leader can generate buy-in is to first establish an agreement of what the team’s shared values are and how that impacts moving forward. Kouzes and Posner present this as the foundation of the practice called Model the Way.
Once a team has agreement about what is important, the path of action becomes clear. For example, if the team decides that they value collaboration, then getting everyone to participate in implementation would be a natural expectation.
Step 2: Gather diverse points of view
Inviting feedback from others is a means of gathering outsight and a leader’s role in this step is to suspend judgment and encourage different perspectives. This is the time for brainstorming and hearing as many ideas from as many people as possible. As Kouzes and Posner call it, Challenging the Process is about seeking outsight.
There are many tactics for generating ideas, but an attitude of openness provides the fertile ground for ideas to be generated. It is important for the leader to contribute to creating a safe environment so that the team can offer ideas that might sound outside the box. The leader may even model risk-taking by sharing an outlandish-sounding idea of his own.
Step 3: Build consensus
A leader that has established values and considered the whole team’s point of view is more likely to have already fostered a sense of collaboration, which makes the next step of coming to a decision that encompasses everyone's perspective easier.
In the practice of Enabling Others to Act, Kouzes and Posner emphasize the importance of fostering collaboration by building trust and facilitating relationships. With this in mind, the leader can draw mutual understanding as team members sift through ideas and options to arrive at an inclusive solution.
Step 4: Implement with confidence
At the end of a consensus process, the result is that most people agree with the decision. If some team members don’t agree, they still feel that their alternatives were sufficiently considered, such that they can support the decision that was made.
Another aspect of Enable Others to Act is of strengthening others by increasing their self-determination and developing competence. The leader also has an opportunity to engender commitment by showing support for the outcome. With this sense of resolve, team members are more likely to carry out the decision that they have helped make.
A leader who supports a consensus decision, made by applying awareness and these techniques, is likely to have helped create the positive outcome of a sustainable agreement for the leader and his or her team. After all, better decisions with more smooth teamwork benefit the whole team.