For years I was the “Mr. Idea Man” in our company. But that’s my job…isn’t it? As the leader of the company, I thought it was my job to generate the ideas and map-out how to implement them. Eventually, I learned that there was a better way to lead my team – a way to increase innovation and manage change at the same time.
My old management style went something like this: When I got an idea for our business, I would come up with (on my own) all of the questions to ask, and do all of the research to determine all the answers.
Then I would go to our management team to present my idea and explain how it would work.
The team always accepted the ideas, but they were always “Bobby’s ideas”.
For days, weeks, and even months after I presented an idea, I found myself spending a lot of time and energy just to persuade my team that it was a good idea.
And when it came time to implement a “Bobby idea”, the process was very slow, and it always took a lot of pushing and prodding to make it happen. It was draining and discouraging.
An “Aha!” Moment
Then in October 1989, I attended a workshop that included a 360-degree Feedback assessment of me. I sent out several confidential questionnaires to my co-workers, my three best friends, and my wife asking them to evaluate me.
These confidential questionnaires were collected, put in an envelope by a highly trusted person in the office and the results shared with me on the first day of the workshop. The results were so stunning, that I still have those questionnaires, after all of these years.
The results revealed that when I get an idea, I should first go to the management team before I make a decision as to what to do and how to do it. The management team wanted to be involved on the front-end, not on the back-end when a decision had already been made!
Well, it actually made me mad when I heard of the response because I thought I was doing the management team a favor. I thought I was helping our managers because they were so busy doing their everyday work.
It took me all that first day and over-night before I got over my anger.
Then the next day of the workshop I realized that everyone who responded to the questionnaire really wanted to help me by being involved on the front-end before I made up my mind as to what to do and how to do it. A big aha!!!
The Rest of the Story
This experience was a springboard for development of a decision making process in our company that became known as our 1-2-3, which means:
Before you make a decision, ask yourself:
1. Who can help me make a better decision?
2. Who will have to carry it out?
3. Who will be impacted by it?
The next time you have a decision to make, try asking yourself, or your team, these three questions. Over the coming weeks, I’ll dig deeper into the 1-2-3 decision making process to explain the tremendous impact it had on my leadership.
What process do you use to make decisions?