The Blog

Can You Allow Someone Else to Actually Make a Decision?

I was at a conference centre earlier this week for a series of meetings. Whilst I was waiting for my next meeting with 2 good friends of mine Benji Massarin & Jordan Prescott to discuss some exciting business ventures like entrepreneurs do.

I was having a coffee in reception and at the next booth was a small group of executives who were in a similar situation. Their conversation went something like this.

"Oh, God why do we bother? Three hours we spent in that meeting with Chris (name changed for obvious reasons), thrashing through all the issues, causes and options. Finally, we got round to talking about what we were going to do about it. In the last five minutes we actually decided on a plan of action, but hey! We made a plan! We got there in the end. We knew what we needed to do, and when by and everything. We had made progress, it had taken twice as long as it should have, to go through all the moaning and recriminations, but we got there.

Then, this morning we go to Pat to report progress and what happens? Pat changes the entire plan. And he can do so just because he sits above Chris on the "management" chart. He isn't a specialist in the issue, he hasn't been involved in the reasons why it all went pear-shaped in the first place, but suddenly, he knows better and we are all back at square one.

Worse, actually; because now we have a direct order to put in a plan that we know won't well work. And it is going to have our names on it! The time we spent with Chris was now totally wasted! Now we've got to go back to Chris and tell him that Pat has changed the plan, he'll be b****y livid, we'll get shouted at, and the problem will still be there!"

The next ten minutes was filled with a BMW.....a Bitch, Moan and Whine, as each recounted an anecdote from their personal career history where they had suffered identical, similar or even worse circumstances. These all seemed to have taken place in big organisations, and the "When I was at....." opening lines of each one suggested that generally the private sector and the public sectors were just as bad.

So why do so many senior managers feel this need to impose their personal stamp on decisions taken below their level in the organisational pecking order?

  • Are they incapable of trusting the people they recruited and manage?
  • Do they genuinely think that they know better, by dint of the size of their paycheque or their office?
  • Are they showing decisive leadership action?
  • Or would a better leader allow people to make their own decisions?
  • Is a light touch and less micro-management, more conducive to higher morale and ownership amongst the led?
  • Would businesses and service organisations flourish with a bit less command and control, and a bit more initiative and responsibility?

I'm a director.....please, if anyone sees me doing a "Pat", tell me before you walk out of my office cursing my name!

Thank you for reading, comment away and this blog will also come up on my official website