Have you ever been in a situation where a boss made a decision and didn’t explain the reasons behind it even after being asked? If so, then you might understand the anger, frustration, and disgust my friend felt when his boss flat-out refused to give reasons for some major decisions that impacted the future of the department.

In my leadership seminars I teach leaders how to get their teams to buy-in to their decisions.  There are several steps but one of the most critical is to involve other people in the process. This is Leadership 101. Involving other people doesn’t mean going with the most popular decision, because there will be times when you have to make unpopular decisions. It isn’t having your team make decisions for you either. Involving the team does mean telling them the reason behind your decision.

In his ‘Start with Why‘ TED Talk Simon Sinek famously said ‘people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.’ He was talking about sharing the bigger vision but this advice is well-suited to every day decisions as well. Human nature drives the need in all of us to know the ‘why’ behind the ‘what.’ One of our first, and favorite, questions is ‘Why?’ and we don’t outgrow it. ‘Because I said so’ might be an okay response to a 2-year old but a 42-year old won’t be so receptive.

decision making

Smart leaders know the difference between people doing what you want them to do because they have to do it (i.e. because I said so) and people doing what you want them to do because they want to. The first approach creates resistance and the second approach creates allies.

A leader who gives their reasons for their decisions, whether popular or not, gains respect, builds trust, and displays confidence. When the decision is based on the best interests of the business and supported with facts you get buy-in. People think, I may not agree with you but I trust you because you were confident enough to share your thought process with me and I can see the logic.

A leader who won’t involve others in their decision making process creates suspicion, mistrust, and reduced morale according to a Harvard Business Review article on effective decision making. Speculation grows and people wonder what the leader is hiding. They might not be hiding anything but perception is reality. Or, they could be deliberately hiding the fact that their decision was based on their own selfish interests. The result is the same either way – a demotivated team.

Smart leaders who want people to do what they want them to do will not shy away from sharing their decision-making process. Effective decision making is really a no-brainer, you either exclude people and end up with a toxic environment where no one wants to work with you or you involve people and get them committed early on. The choice is up to you.

Liz Uram helps leaders get better results through clear communication. Work smarter, not harder with proven tools to make communication easier including the Smart Leader System.

Decision Making Secrets of Effective Leaders
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