Individuals, Not Groups, Make Key Decisions


A manager said to me, “I am responsible for selecting new products to sell in our retail outlets.  Since there are many options and it is hard to predict which items will sell best, I ask my team members for their input.” 

“Do you usually get agreement on which product lines to buy?” I asked.

“Almost never do we get strong agreements.  In fact, sometimes our meetings drag on much longer than I like as members become strongly invested in debating their opinions.”

“Then, how do you decide?”

“Eventually, I just have to make the call.”

“Do your team members accept your decisions?”

“For the most part.  I tell them upfront I want to hear their opinions; but since I will be accountable, I want to reserve the right to make the final decision.”

Although we hear a lot about participative decision making, most important decisions are made by individuals.  Of course, wise leaders seek counsel from experts and those responsible for executing decisions.  Both experts and practitioners, because they have differing experiences and values, seldom agree completely on complex decisions.

A good model is to approach your team with a suggested, tentative decision; seek their feedback and select options that improve the decision.    

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