Faster Leader Blog

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Many a leader has problems with getting decisions to stick. In a common scenario, you think a decision has been resolved only to get surprised later when you find the issue is still up in the air. What appears to be agreement turns out to be passive/aggressive resistance. Progress is stalled as you have to keep revisiting and reaffirming decisions. To make decisions that stick and speed up your ability to make the right decisions, here is a decision tool that will help you explore the different interpersonal relationships to a decision. This tool will help you to think through a decision and figure out the right approach and strategy.

  • Who thinks or believes they make the decision? Disputed decision making is a real problem and leads to high levels of conflict. If the dispute is at the peer level, others higher in the organizational will need to be involved.

  • Who can overturn the decision? While these individuals may not be involved in making the decision, their position power gives them the right to stop or reverse a decision.

  • Who needs to be involved before a decision is made? These individuals can offer important perspective, context, alternatives, and can influence acceptance of a decision. If you don’t include them, your decisions could face an uphill battle.

  • Who will the decision affect? Explore the decision’s touch points and the consequences the decision will have on others. It is also important to look for perceived impact. Certain individuals may perceive a decision impacts them when in reality it will not. Don’t ignore or minimize perceptions.

  • Who needs to support the decision? There are individuals who have influence and can act as sponsors of the decision. They make getting a decision ratified and implemented much quicker. They often contribute resources vital to the decision. Without their support, your decision process can stall out.

  • Who will resist the decision? Uncovering opposition to the decision is an important step in the decision mapping process. For individuals who are mildly opposed, you can use influence strategies to win them over to your side. Strongly resistant individuals will fight you every step of the way. Remember, resistance consumes a lot of energy and effort. Evaluate whether the decision will be worth the expenditure of effort you will need to make. If you believe the decision is worth the effort, galvanize your supporters and sponsors to close the deal.

Peter Drucker famously stated, "Culture trumps strategy every time." In our quest to become faster leaders, culture is one of the things we must pay attention to. We must learn how to build fast cultures and keep them running at top efficiency. So, what does a fast culture look like? In my experience, fast cultures have several characteristics in common. Here is a fast culture blueprint to get you started:

  • There is a clear sense of direction and purpose in the organization. Goals and strategies are linked to this direction and employees know how they fit into the grand scheme of things. Vison, mission, charter, strategy, and values are all linked together in a hierarchy of focus.

  • Time is treated as a precious commodity. The importance of using time effectively and efficiently is a core foundational value of the culture of speed.

  • There is a focus on transparency. Leaders are open with their team so team members understand how decisions are made. Leaders make sure the team has the information they need to make quick and accurate decisions.

  • There is minimal politics and unnecessary drama. Leaders try their best to create an environment where politics are frowned upon. When leaders encounter politics, they aggressively deal with it and eliminate it.

  • There are well-honed decision-making processes. Ownership and involvement is clear.

  • There is minimal hierarchy. The culture is not bogged down with too many levels of bureaucracy. However, there is sufficient hierarchy in place to avoid chaos and drive performance. This allows the culture to adapt and be nimble.

  • There is alignment across the different functions. Everyone is on the same page and pulling together.

  • There are productivity tools that work. For example, calendar systems, communication platforms, and project management systems are effective and efficient. Processes are kept to a minimum so that people don’t get overloaded.

  • Problems are solved quickly. Anything that distracts or slows down the team is dealt with aggressively. Needless distractions are not tolerated. The team is focused on winning the race.

  • There are high expectations and people work hard to meet them. There is a track record of consistently meeting those high expectations.

  • A priority is placed on learning. Mistakes are acknowledged, not punished.

  • Adequate resources are assigned to get things done. Projects are not starved and people have the tools to complete their tasks.

  • The environment is high on engagement and people want to be there.

Take some time and analyze your own work culture for these important fast culture characteristics. If your organization is coming up short, target one or two aspects to improve.

The Ownership Formula

There has been considerable erosion of positive employee attitudes towards their companies with the effect particularly pronounced in top performers. This effect has been strongly influenced by the actions companies have taken to respond to the recession. The shift in attitudes is a significant one with potentially long term negative consequences for many companies. As employee’s engagement level with their employer drops, leaders must do more to combat this trend by building or rebuilding a strong relationship with their teams and encouraging a sense of ownership. While ownership can involve a financial stake in the company, typically through stock ownership, leaders can do other things to heighten employee ownership.

I suggest l...

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Faster leaders ask tough questions. Judgment involves questioning the status quo and avoiding the organizational tendency towards complacency. It is necessary to always challenge assumptions, screen out the bias of other people, be self-critical, and evaluate your own choices and motivations.

A leader’s pointed questions are not asked just for the sake of gathering information but instead are focused on getting people to address the real issues. The goal is to get people to think through and test their assumptions and positions. Leaders need to be appropriately aggressive in their inquiry and aggressive in their listening, and demand that people stay focused on the issues. A low tolerance for distraction is also helpful.. Aggressiv...

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Rate yourself and other team members on the following behaviors. Use the rating categories of: Development Needed, Adequate, A Strength.

1. Places a strong emphasis on time and how it is used-both for self and others.

2. Is consistently ahead of events.

3. Quickly deals with problems and issues.

4. Makes time to think things through.

5. Has a strategic mindset.

6. Focuses attention and effort on the most critical things.

7. Achieves results in a constructive manner.

8. Constantly builds organizational capability.

9. Actively engages with people in the organization.

10. Minimizes resistance to goals, plans, and initiatives.

11. Challenges the organization.

12. Has a good sense of what people and the organization are capable of.

13. Builds...

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Strategy #11: Cultivate your judgment.
Your judgment is your compass. It is what allows you to quickly see to the heart of things, prioritize accurately, and make decisions about a wide variety of issues.

  • Strategy #12: Embrace your leadership power.

Leadership and power go hand in hand. Sometimes influence is simply too slow. Know when to act and utilize the power and authority that are aspects of successful leadership. However, keep in mind that the number of issues you should personally own or be responsible for is very small.

  • Strategy #13: Focus on efficiency in everything you do.

Don’t waste anything, repurpose whenever possible, and make sure your work processes actually make people’s work easier, not harder. Accomplish the maximum with minimum effort. Create feedback loops so that you will quickly know whether or not ...

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