I was asked a question recently in a workshop that I thought was interesting. It was something I didn’t have a chance to answer completely in that setting:
How can I nurture decisive followers?
With the benefit of time and reflection I can give it a more complete answer. But before I do, I want to point out the three reasons this is a very insightful question:
- Decisiveness is a valuable skill – one that as leaders we should want others to master.
- It properly implies the leader’s role in nurturing this skill. Whether it’s decisiveness or another skill, nurturing skills is clearly part of a leader’s role.
- Asking the question is the first step to finding a solution!
However, beyond asking the question, there are some things you can do as a leader to help others become more decisive:
Set a good example.
The best place to start is to be decisive yourself. It is pretty hard to encourage someone else towards a behavior you aren’t exhibiting yourself. If you aren’t very decisive, start by working on yourself first.
Set a clear expectation.
Let’s face it – not every leader in the world wants their team members to actually make decisions; many want control of all the decisions themselves. Perhaps your organizational culture or someone’s past work experience doesn’t make it clear that you want your team to make decisions. If you want people to be decisive, you need to make it a clear expectation. Let them know – clearly – that you want them to make decisions, and in what situations.
Reduce the perceived risk.
Setting expectations starts to reduce risk, but there is more here too. Ask yourself this: how do you treat mistakes? If you tell people you want them to be decisive but mistakes are punished, how many decisions do you think people will make? If you recognize mistakes can be learning experiences, then let people know that and behave accordingly. Doing so is one way to reduce the risk people may perceive in making a decision.
Let people know what decisions you want them to make and when. Boundaries could be in relationship to budget or any other factor. Letting people know the acceptable and expected boundaries makes it easier and more comfortable for them to make decisions.
As with any other skill, as a leader you can provide coaching. If you have done the steps above you have set everyone up for greater success in coaching. Decisions making is a skill and so coaching is an appropriate and effective way to nurture it.
Let them decide!
This is perhaps the most important step of all! As with any skill, it takes practice to get better! Set the expectations, set the boundaries, provide coaching and let them do it.
These steps will put you on a path to having more decisive followers. This goal isn’t just a nice thing to do, or a delegation tool. As you develop decisiveness in yourself and others, you create a more positive, engaged and productive workplace. If you want those things, decide today to help others be more decisive!
Note – This post fits nicely with one from last Monday – when I wrote about making the decisions that make you most productive.