Years ago, I rolled out some good news to our leadership team. My voice and verbal pace quickened (as much as possible, for a Texas boy) as I shared my exciting news with them, “We’ve just purchased eight acres, including some existing facilities that we’ll transform into our new offices!” After some positive feedback and some clarifying Q&A, they soon began to think about the associated “bad news” …
This meant that we would be consolidating our current nine (yes, nine) different office and warehouse facilities into the large new location! The leadership and logistical challenges seemed overwhelming, but it proved to be an opportunity for significant growth, unity, and teamwork.
If you’ve been in leadership very long, you know that big moves mean big changes, and big changes are opportunities to grow –but also come with significant leadership challenges. Dealing with change can be difficult. It’s human nature to get comfortable with the status quo. We all like the familiarity that comes with routine.
We knew that the impending move was going to require a lot of change, and to do it right, a lot of buy-in and help from everyone in our organization. When faced with such a challenge, what’s a leader to do? Well, I’m sure we didn't do things perfectly, but we used a unique approach to handle the big move, and inspire our people in the process!
Earlier in my leadership development, I would have dived into this massive project head-first. After days of thinking and planning and creating long to-do lists, I would have called my leadership team together for the big reveal. Then I would’ve shared the news of the big project, along with my plans for how we would tackle the many associated challenges.
Fortunately, for the big consolidation move, I chose a different approach. I embraced the Engage2Lead participative leadership approach and leveraged the use of the 1-2-3 leadership tool.
What is 1-2-3?
1-2-3 is a unique approach to the decision-making process defined as:
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?
The answers to the three questions above will guide leaders to assemble the right people and involve them, as appropriate to help make important decisions.
Every leader can develop a more effective and efficient TEAM by asking these three simple questions that bring consistently better results (extraordinary results beyond your imagination) while maintaining and enhancing relationships.
Remember: This is not decision-making by committee. You, as the leader, must still decide to make the final decision.
Well, back to the big move. In considering the 1-2-3 questions, we realized that we needed to involve the whole company with the decision-making process related to the move. In November 1998, we chose to shut the entire company down for a half-day training to focus on the following questions:
- What would be good characteristics/behaviors/attitudes of our service toward our external customers at our new location?
- What barriers or challenges will there be for us at the new location?
- What have we done particularly well or not-so-well regarding internal customer teamwork?
- What specific steps (regarding actions, behaviors, and attitudes) should we take as individuals and teams to maximize the effectiveness of our company as we look toward future growth?
WOW! We sure did receive a boat-load of amazing feedback and great suggestions from our people, and they also became really excited about helping us move to the new facilities.
Every leader can use the Engage2Lead leadership approach to create the following two benefits.
1. An Energized Team
When a leader engages their people in the decision-making process, several positive results are set into motion.
Team members who are involved in the process become more and more enthusiastic and energized about it as they go along.
It allows the leader to show that he values his people’s abilities as well as their knowledge. This builds trust between the leader and his or her team.
The team’s desire for the success of the process (and the result) grows.
Team members’ enthusiasm also grows and becomes contagious, lifting the team to higher performance. An energized team will overcome obstacles and cheer on the new project at critical points along the way.
Insight: Employees who are inspired by what’s going on tend to be highly motivated to provide customers with experiences that exceed expectations.
2. An Efficient Team
As you engage your team by asking them to participate in the decision-making process, they learn more about the key issues. And they take more ownership and become excited about the challenges and opportunities being considered.
Educated, vested and energized teams implement decisions with enthusiasm and purpose. Plus, there is little time spent “selling” them on the decision because they have already bought into it.
And their knowledge and ownership of the project and energy propel them to implement a decision with excellence. And an informed team also experiences fewer surprises as they roll out new initiatives.
With good up-front coordination, adopting a participative Engage2Lead leadership style that employs the 1-2-3 leadership tool can guide teams to discover ideas that far exceed any one leader’s expectations or abilities. And that’s exactly what happened when we invited the participation of all our people to help make the decisions associated with our big move!
Do you have an upcoming decision to make? Do you see how employing the Engage2Lead leadership approach can help you make better decisions and confront changes facing your organization? Please share your comments <here> and share this blog post with a co-worker and friend.