I have always enjoyed learning about other leaders and observing what makes them successful. And I’ve learned a lot from one particular chief executive whose greatest skill is perhaps the way he interacts with others.
He achieved an incredible increase in corporate performance by changing the authoritative corporate culture to one best characterized as TEAMWORK using participative leadership. And it was not easy.
For thirty years, his organization had been run by the creative founder (a real genius), who made all the decisions himself and then dictated operating instructions to his three submissive—but frustrated—lieutenants.
After the founder moved on, this chief executive took over. He began leading his team by seeking input from key employees before making major policy and strategy decisions.
With this new approach, the company, which had grown 5 to 10 percent a year for thirty years, exploded with record-setting growth. During the next four years, he led the company to volume increases of more than 400 percent and profits that rose over 1,800 percent.
There’s a lesson here for all of us!
Yes, it’s awfully easy in the short run to make quick decisions on our own and to be curt and directive in giving instructions. (Just think about how much easier it might sometimes seem to pick up your child’s room rather than to patiently give little Emily repeated instructions and direction.)
However, at least in the workplace, it takes incredibly little additional time and effort to allow others:
- To contribute their thoughts on pending decisions
- To encourage involvement
- To ask for commitments instead of demanding them
- To be constructive and supportive when seeking improvement
- To be able to disagree without being disagreeable
- To capitalize on the creative ideas and support of all those who can contribute to making good things happen
What does it take to improve the way one interacts with others? An understanding of people’s desires and needs, coupled with nominal investments of time and effort to tap the power of the Engage2Lead approach to participative leadership, will yield wonderful long-term returns.
Every leader can have a culture where people thrive and profits soar by asking three questions.
I don’t know about you, but I needed other people to help me get the job done.
– Andrew Carnegie
Three Key Questions
You can improve your TEAM’S performance by asking three key questions when making decisions regarding your challenges and opportunities. In my company, these three questions became known as our “1-2-3”, which means…
At the very beginning of the decision-making process— AND before making a decision – the empowering leader seeks input from his or her employees. Such a leader asks:
1. Who can help me make a better decision?
2. Who will have to carry it out?
3. Who will be impacted by it?
When you, as the leader, use these three questions (1-2-3) to gather input from your TEAM members, they have a better understanding of and commitment to the decision that you collaboratively set.
And they take pride in the achievement of decisions when they are involved in the development, creation, and implementation planning stages. When employees provide the necessary input, how can they complain about implementing their own plans?
And as the leader, you can avoid having those who:
- Lack a feeling of ownership or commitment.
- Drag their heels in implementation.
- Resort to sabotaging the plans.
The leader must still decide the future direction for the organization.
I can confidently say from experience that the increases in morale and TEAMWORK will lead to improved performance and results through the participative leadership style called Engage2Lead and the use of the three question tool, “1-2-3”.
Do you make a decision and then dictate the operating instructions to your followers? Or do you engage your people at the beginning of the decision-making process? Please share your comments <here> and share this blog posts with you family, friends, and co-workers.