Effective Leaders Decide About Deciding

Every leader should design and communicate how they want to make decisions. Making it clear what you care about, what you need to know about, and what you’re tasking others to move on will help minimize confusion about who should be making which decisions. It also helps clarify when you as the leader can be kept out of a decision, when you should be pulled in, and how requests for your feedback should be communicated.

I’ve learned this the hard way. Because I’m passionate about multiple facets of my company, my executives were getting confused at times about why I was inserting myself into a conversation. Sometimes, it was simply my excitement, and other times, it was from a place of concern. Sometimes, I didn’t see how their execution of a strategy lined up with what I saw in my mind’s eye. This made my executives blurry about what they had the power to act on and when they needed to loop me in — in part because I wasn’t clear on those things myself. Decisions would stall. Frustrations would run high.

Convoluted decision-making processes waste time. Respondents to a 2018 McKinsey survey, for instance, said they spent 37% of their time making decisions, on average — and they estimated that more than half that time was spent ineffectively. On the other hand, delegating decisions and trusting the people you’ve handed them to isn’t always easy.

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