Friday, April 22, 2011

Servant Leadership Practice--Invite Them to Join

Anger flooded the phone line. Not in terms of expletives, the anger was evident through the "clenched teeth" restraint, clipped tones, terse sentences and change in attitude. We had been discussing a possible change to the composition of the management team. My boss was on the other end of the phone. Another VP and I were on this end. The attitude changed from the other end of the line when we raised some concerns and objections. We thought we were being invited to consider the change. We were wrong.

Typically, there are four styles of working with a group on a decision:
  • Tell: You just tell them what the decision is and their role. This works well in emergencies or highly structured command-and-control organizations.
  • Sell: You've made the decision and you want them to understand it to create a bit more buy-in. Q and A occurs, but the decision won't be changed.
  • Consult: You haven't made the decision yet. You want their input so that you can make the best informed decision possible.
  • Join: You're willing to abide by the group's decision. You provide input as if you're another team member, but the group makes the decision.
The situation above acted like Consult or Join in the beginning of the conversation. As my boss' frustration grew, it became obvious that it really was a Sell Job, even though he was asking questions. When we couldn't be sold, we were then told that he was making the decision. From the person being added to the management team, I found out later that my boss had made the decision prior to the phone call. In hindsight, I could easily trace my confusion as the conversation seemed to start at Join but quickly spiral into Tell.

Many leaders complain about the lack of engagement from their staffs. Often there's a lack of engagement because we're not allowing participation in matters that affect them. It's not hard to get to Consult on many decisions. It takes a lot of trust, and integrity, to follow through on Join--to really believe that you hired good, capable, intelligent people who do amazing things when given the chance, and haven't ruined their lives when left to their own wits. You say you have that kind of people. How often do you let them show their stuff by joining you on decisions?

Today, look for an opportunity to invite them to join you in making a decision.

For C12 and Truth@Work members, before he left their midst physically, Jesus said that he considered his disciples as friends. He also said that whatever they decided on earth would be honored by God ("bound on earth will be bound in heaven...loosed on earth will be loosed in heaven" Matt 16.19 and 18.18). He also declared that they would do greater things than he did while he was on earth and they could get whatever they asked for (John 14.12-13). If the Christ would trust his followers, who made many mistakes and didn't "get it", with eternal matters, how much more could you invite your staff to make decisions on less risky propositions?

No comments:

Post a Comment