Leadership Q&A: Decision Making and Teams

Rock, Paper, ScissorsIf only leadership decision making and teams was as easy as a game of rock, paper, scissors.

Last week’s Leadership Q&A post shared a question from a leader friend about seeking advice on a decision without sliding into gossip. This week’s question is all about decision making in the context of teams. My friend Christy asks:

“If you’re the leader and you want to make a certain decision but your team wants to do it another way, how do you balance their opinion and yours? How do you know when you need to put your foot down, compromise, or give in and do it their way?”

Leading a team is a great responsibility, particularly when it comes to making decisions. In addition to developing a process for discernment and decision making as a team, the following are 3 tips for making decisions with your team:

1. Be clear on who is making the final decision. Will this be a collaborative decision by the whole team or will one person be making it with the collective input from the team? This clarification can help save a lot of time, energy, and potential frustration from team members.

2. Be specific on what kind of input you need from the team. Do you need more facts and data? Do you need their experience on what has worked in the past? Do you need to know the impact this will have on their workload or volunteers? What do they see that you might be missing? Asking more specific questions than just, “what do you think?” will give you the input you need to make a more well-informed decision.

3. Be selective with your “no”. Just like in parenting, saying yes as a leader as often as possible when the stakes are small, allows you to save your “no” for when the stakes are high. My friend David Grant is a leader, pastor, and father of four. He shared that he often asks if he is saying no out of personal preference, conviction, or wisdom. If your team is collectively advocating for a different direction than you were planning, it’s wise to pause and ask why you are wanting to say no and if you can say yes.

What tip would you add to the list?

What question do you have about leadership decision making?

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