I’ve realised there is a term for my management style – inclusive leadership.
(Nice to know I’m in step with the latest in management science.)
Inclusive leadership is a strong leadership style. The inclusive leader will consult widely. They’ll sound out a lot of people before they make a big decision. They’ll actively seek out opposing views, and test their ideas with others.
However, at the end of the day, the inclusive leader makes their decision alone.
They digest everything they’ve heard, and it informs their decision, but at the end of the day, they are very clear that it is their decision and their decision alone.
The buck stops with them.
So why do I like this style of leadership?
Well, to start with, even with my towering intellect, I know I can’t see the whole picture. There are always going to be perspectives on an issue that I’ve missed. When I call those in and incorporate them, I am making my decisions on a much broader picture and a much stronger base.
However, I also know that opinions are easy. If I ask my uber driver what I should do about a particular marketing campaign, he’s going to give me an opinion. He might have a bit of a rave and actually be pretty strong in his views.
But it’s easy to have strong opinions when you don’t have skin in the game. He doesn’t have six figures riding on the outcome. He’s not risking his entire growth strategy for the year.
He’s just not going to give the decision the care that I’m going to give it.
This has gradients. Even the people in my inner-circle don’t have as much skin in the game as I do. They have a stack more than my uber driver, but ultimately not as much as me.
They’re going to give me considered opinions (that’s why they’re there), but they just don’t care about the outcome as much as I do. They simply can’t.
So collective decision-making systems push responsibility for decisions out onto people who simply shouldn’t have that responsibility, or simply don’t have that responsibility.
This is my business. It’s my responsibility.
For a while there we were seeing a push towards flat hierarchies and collective, knights-of-the-round-table decision making processes.
But I now think it’s moving back the other way.
Leaders need to lead.
And in my experience, the people who work for me are generally happy to not have the decision making responsibility. They don’t actually want it.
If they know that I take their opinions seriously, and they feel heard, then that’s generally enough.
Respecting someone’s opinion and input is not the same as acting on it.
So put responsibility in its proper place, and lead when its time to lead.