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Make Better Decisions with Your Leadership Team
By Mike Philie

Leaders can be torn between getting a decision made within their leadership team, or just going with their intuition. It can be a catch-22 situation, as you want to engage and get buy-in from the team, yet at the same time you want to move forward with an action plan. Inertia can be caused by different factors. The three speed bumps that I see most often are the structure of the team, who’s on the team, and the rules of engagement that have been established.

Having clear intentions about the “why” behind having the leadership team exist can help minimize the issues that can stall the decision-making progress. In an ideal situation, the team is made up of those influential senior managers who can help make the best decisions that help get the company from here, to there. The strength of the team, through discussion, debate, and collaboration, can be powerful.

You want these folks to be engaged, but remember that it is a team. Effective teams understand that there may be conflicting points of view on certain matters. That opens the topic up for everyone to offer their points of view. Once a decision is made though, the team needs to agree to carry out the decision in a unified manner. One team, one voice.

The rules of engagement for these teams is an area that is often overlooked. How will issues be presented, how will everyone’s point of view be heard, and more importantly, how will decisions be made. It may sound simple, but I usually see one of two basic tracks. Either everyone is gracious and offers their opinion, but no one makes the final call; or you have one or two strong personalities that dominate the discussion and everyone else sits on their hands.

Should it be a unanimous decision, a majority, or does someone have the final say? Perhaps this doesn’t happen in your company, but I do see teams that struggle in this area. Effectively communicating the rules would help minimize these issues and keep the team focused.

Not sure if there is an absolute best way for teams to make decisions, as there are many thoughts on this subject. I do like the decision making process that Bain & Company talks about in their study about The Five Steps to Better Decisions, and in their book, Decide & Deliver. A passage from the book, “No company can reach its full potential unless it makes good decisions quickly and consistently and then implements them effectively. Their 10-year research program involving more than 1,000 companies showed a clear correlation between decision effectiveness and business performance.” It’s a good read and I encourage you to share it with your team.

If you’re not satisfied with the results your team is delivering, or how the decisions are being made, perhaps a meeting audit might be helpful. Reach out to one of your trusted resources and have them sit in on a meeting or two. It might be your CPA, attorney, an HR professional, or a trusted advisor. Get an outside perspective of how the team communicates and transitions issues into actionable steps.

You’ve got a lot invested in this leadership team, and should expect good things. The more that you and your leadership team focus on becoming a more effective group, the better the outcome. Don’t aspire to be average—that’s not why you got into this business.

Please add any comments or questions below. Good luck!

Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic assessments, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.comLinkedIn or email at mphilie@philiegroup.com.

Originally published in Printing Impressions.

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