Why Effective Leaders Don’t Take Decisions

In organisations there can be case for managers and even executives but that case is rare and usually poor. What are required by most organisations are leaders and “doers”. It would great if everyone was a leader, but whilst anyone can be a leader, not everyone wants to be a leader. Some are just “doers” happy to do and let others lead. The problems is so called leaders who think they are there to take decisions. The worse ones believe they are the only ones capable of making the decision. Let’s see why effective leaders don’t take decisions.

Here’s a typical example. The business needs to buy new software or acquire a new machine or implement a new system or solve a customer service problem. Who gets to make the decision decision? – the boss. the one person in the organisation who will probably not use the new software or system, doesn’t work the machines and who is the furthest from the customer decides what is best for those who do. Where is the logic? Answer, if I take the decision, I have power over those who can’t take the decision and that makes poor leaders feel good.

Effective organisations and people together with the best leaders don’t try to solve problems and certainly don’t make recommendations. Their job is to facilitate a culture where the people who really know and understand the problem are given the authority to solve it. It is the job of the leader to bring all the interested and knowledgeable individuals together, to help them identify the true problem and bring about the solution.

If I am ill I don’t want the health minister to tell me the solution, I ask someone at the front end, a doctor. If there is a problem with my car then the head of Ford or Honda or any of the other car companies would be useless, what I need is a mechanic (or more likely a software engineer these days!!).

This all seems obvious, and so why when there is a human resource problem are human resources brought in to solve it? Why, when there is a decision as to what machine to buy are managers and executives involved in the decision as to which machine is best? The people who really know about HR are the employees, the people who really know which machine is best are the shop floor workers.

An effective health minister would put in place an environment where the decisions about what facilities and resourcing was required was taken by the front line workers and then the minister would put in place the resources to enable those decisions to be enacted. An effective leaders of a business would do the same. Enable the staff to decide what was  required to enable the objective of the organisation to be achieved and then put in place the resources to enable that to happen.

Many so called “leaders” work the other way round. Handing down resources like some benevolent soup kitchen attendant and telling everyone to make the best of what they have been given.

Being an effective leader is not about taking decisions, it’s about putting in place the environment and culture where the people who really understand the problem can solve the problem themselves.

That’s why effective leaders don’t take decisions but the way they work enables the best decisions to be made.

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