“No involvement, no commitment” is one of the many wise adages left with us as part of Dr. Stephen R. Covey’s legacy.
This short phrase should serve as a metaphorical Jiminy Cricket to every leader. Every spouse and partner. Every parent.
All of us have been in a meeting with our leader when they pretended to invite our opinions on a strategy they’d already decided on. In a disingenuous attempt to make us feel valued and involved, they feigned interest in our buy-in, when what they were really doing was placating us. Throwing us a bone by holding a meeting, proposing a goal or course of direction, and then patiently waiting as we came to see the wisdom of jumping on board.
Whatever. We’re not that stupid. In fact, we’re on to your lame attempts to fake interest in our opinions.
Hey leaders: Listen up. There’s such a thing as executive privilege. You are the leader. With that comes responsibility and accountability. You get to decide. Not on everything, but on many things. So if you have a strategy you need us to execute on and you’re willing to step to the mantle and own the outcomes (positive and negative), then you have both the authority and responsibility to just tell us. Tell us you’ve decided on a go-forward course of action, and you need our help to execute it. Period. It’s not up for debate about if we do it. But it is up to debate about how we do it, since you’ve already decided the what.
Own it, and just tell us when you don’t want our opinion. Every organization isn’t a democracy. Nor is every relationship or family.
Now before you think I just gave you permission to dictate every strategy for those in your life…you would be mistaken. Leadership is about empathy. Understanding. Calibration. Involvement. Buy-in.
In many cases, your role is to propose and suggest. Perhaps you need a new outcome or want to pursue a different goal, and you really don’t care how exactly it happens—you just need the outcome. Tell your team this. Be sure they understand what and when the outcome is needed, and invite them to decide the how. Communicate to them clearly when you’re on the early end of a potential strategy decision and would sincerely like their opinions and suggestions. Let them know this is the time to shape the strategy. They’re invited to be involved.
Because involvement equals commitment. But as a team member, I also recognize I can’t be involved in every decision. That’s not my role. Sometimes you don’t want my opinion, and that’s okay. Just don’t tell me you do, when you really don’t.
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