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3 Instructions to Help Your Staff Make Decisions

One of the most powerful gifts we can ever give our people is the gift of empowerment. How do we do it? Well, one of the ways is through helping them solve problems and make decisions.

This may sound simple, but how many bosses do you know that are all too happy to give you the answer when you go to them with a problem?

It happens without thought and is probably a natural response to being asked for help, but at best it has no impact on the growth of a person and their ability to learn the vital skills of problem solving and decision making.

When it comes to effective leadership, problem solving is not only an important skill but a crucial role for leaders to take on as they strive to eliminate barriers and challenges that can otherwise hinder an organisation’s progress.

It stands to reason then, that part of the development of our emerging leaders is using strategies that ensure skills like problem solving and decision making are practised and honed.

To help your staff become more capable of solving problems and making decisions, we need to start mindfully delegating both problem solving and decision making to them.

To do this, we can use these instructions:

1. Before you come to me with a problem, define it clearly in writing.

2. Write down all the reasons why the problem has occurred.

3. Identify all the possible solutions to the problem.

Then, select the solution that you think is best.

As a great leader, when an employee brings you a problem you should always ask, ‘‘What do you think we should do?’’

Helping and allowing people to make decisions makes them stronger, smarter, and more competent. It also frees up a lot of your time, which you can put to better use elsewhere.

The art of making decisions can be seen as a minefield of scrutiny and criticism with lots of bystanders ready to point out our ‘wrong’ decisions. One of the most important lessons an emerging leader has to learn is how to handle times when, in hindsight, a different decision would have yielded better results.

Quite often we can see the results of bad experiences in our early years that came through a lack of support, guidance and backing from our own ‘leaders’. It looks like a manager today who is too scared to make a decision and procrastinates and makes excuses.

To get great at this, we must learn to learn from every situation.

Aristotle wrote, ‘‘Wisdom is an equal combination of experience plus reflection.’’

A great habit for a leader to get into is to ask two questions after every experience to be sure that you extracted the greatest amount of wisdom in learning possible from the experience:

1. ‘‘What did I do right?’’ Analyse everything that you did right in that particular decision, even if the decision didn’t turn out as well as you would have liked. Look for the good points in your decision making process.

2. ‘‘What would I do differently?’’ Make a list of everything that you would do to make a better decision next time.

The best thing about these two questions is that they both require positive answers. Instead of thinking, ‘‘What did I do wrong?’’ you are asking, ‘‘What did I do right?’’ and ‘‘What would I do differently?’’

This keeps your mind positive and focused on the solution and focused on the future.

The best leaders today are decisive. They make decisions and then they move ahead to implement those decisions. Not so crash hot managers avoid making decisions. They are too afraid of making a mistake.

Developing the quality of decisiveness, in combination with your problem solving ability, is the key to peak leadership performance.


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