When you lead an organization or a department, it is imperative to ensure everyone is on the same page and makes consistent decisions. A leader quite often struggles with the balance between controlling the important decisions and empowering those who work for him or her. It’s a delicate balance because, while you want to provide the inspiration for those around you to soar and help you provide the range necessary for the business to grow, you still need to minimize the fallout from bad decision-making, which often requires a tighter rein.
Getting to the perfect balance is not easy, but it is obtainable. It is also necessary for the complete happiness and satisfaction of not only the employees, but also the leader. So although it feels great to provide direction and inspiration, it is also important for your staff to feel they can make a decision without checking in with you for their every move. Obviously, a set of guidelines and protocols must be communicated thoughtfully and in great detail to employees regarding which decisions they have the power to make and on which ones they should rely on you for your experience and expertise.
That is the easy part, especially if there are clear boundaries on the degree of decision-making that is acceptable for the various staff levels. However, once that is mapped out, leaders are faced with the fact that once there is empowerment, there is still the question if the employees will actually make the appropriate decisions. Hiring and then training the right employees relieves some of the burden, but naturally, no matter how unbelievable your staff may be, mistakes will happen; it is a reality which leaders definitely need to take into consideration.
Over the years, I have introduced my employees to three factors to consider when making any decision, regardless of its magnitude. I believe this has allowed me to grow as a leader and let go of responsibility for making the ultimate decision to the folks in my group. Because these three guidelines, “The Lou Imbriano Trinity of Making Decisions,” if you will, have instilled the confidence in me to hand over the power, they have also allowed the person making the decision to be confident in their ability to decide correctly. I also believe this was a key component to their growth and development as leaders, because many of the folks who have worked for me in the past are running departments and companies today.
So here are the three questions that I challenge folks to ask themselves prior to making decisions, and that I also ponder to make decisive and correct moves every day. By the way, just now, I decided to call it “The Decisive Trinity.”
1) Is the decision building revenue?
2) Is the decision building relationships?
3) What is the cost of the decision (either in time, expense or erosion of a relationship)?
Three simple little questions, that if thought through, get me and my folks to a quick and appropriate business decision. For example, whatever the situation, if the answer to questions one and two are, “yes” and the answer to question three is, “no cost,” then it would be a pretty safe bet to proceed. Ahhh, if only life and business were always that easy. But even though every decision is not a “lay up,” what I have witnessed to be true is that utilizing “The Decisive Trinity” weeds out and affirms in which direction to go. It provides clear structure for decision-making, while empowering the person to make a decision in which they can believe and trust. It also provides the sense to know when they need to come to the leader for advice on the more complicated and intricate situations that arise.
The Decisive Trinity should help you both when making a decision as well as in handing over the reins of decision-making. And even though a bad decision is better than no decision at all, we each want and need the skills to make the right decisions.