Leadership Requires Decision-making

It seems that in most organizations, democratic decision-making processes have overtaken all levels of authority to the detriment of leadership. Consensus in all decisions is sought to the exclusion of making timely (and even arguably sound) business decisions. Even more alarming is that all too frequently the loudest opinions and the “in” line of thought is able to overcome logic, business necessity, and just about any other line of reasoning presented.

“Group Think”: The Experience

Many years ago there was a study done in which people were placed in a group, but only one of the group was the actual subject of the experiment. Everyone in the group was told to give the wrong answer to the question being asked. The answer was obviously wrong, but as each person consistently gave the wrong answer, the subject of the experiment ultimately felt compelled to also give that same wrong answer … knowing internally that the answer was wrong. The group pressure applied caused the person to feel compelled to belong to the group and to “go along” with the answer: essentially “group think.”

Leadership: Input In, Decision-making Out

Leaders are able to act independently of “group think.” They are able to take in opinions and information, step back and take actions that are right regardless of the “group think.” They act in a manner that is fitting and appropriate to the situation and ethical standards. Furthermore, leaders understand that achieving a consensus isn’t always necessary or even the right thing. Decisions and actions often have to be made without full information or with all information not fully revealed to all parties being asked for input. Leaders take the lead and take the flack for making the tough decisions and setting the course for the organization and for everything and everyone that follows … or that’s how it used to be.

The Good Ol’ Days

Remember when the decision maker was accountable? When the leader stayed the leader even when the fallout from a decision … fell out? The leader took it for the team and then turned around and handed out the reprimands to the team as appropriate. There was seldom a public “Well, I didn’t know” or “It wasn’t my fault.” Saying something like that meant they really weren’t in charge and weren’t “the boss.” To not know what you were doing or to not know what your employees were doing? That would be like admitting you were incompetent and that would mean: you wouldn’t be entitled to your bonus! But that would never happen today. Not being able to generate positive performance and actually knowing what your employees are doing doesn’t mean you forfeit your bonus, or any of the extras for that matter. After all; you can hardly be accountable as a LEADER of your organization for not LEADING can you? Not today anyway. Performance is apparently optional when it comes to leadership these days.

Consensus Makes Optional Performance

In some ways consensus does make sense that managers (note I said “managers” not “leaders”) aren’t held accountable for performance when they are no longer leading organizations. Managing by consensus means that there is compromise in the decision-making, so the point person isn’t solely responsible for the decision made, but just for the compromise. Well then, maybe if the person was willing to compromise and not be THE leader, then they could still responsible, but then the decision to manage/lead the organization by consensus had to have been made by the board and upper management. Hey, that was by consensus too, so the shareholders must be okay with it; if the shareholders are okay with it, then how are the stock markets viewing everything? That looks like a consensus too! What about at the valuation methods, the talking heads on the news channels, and the “experts” in the Treasury and other government agencies? Well, we’re all in agreement! No one is responsible, so give them the bonuses! NOT!

Let’s Talk, Talk, Talk About It

There is so much talk these days about corporate compensation and the bonuses. How big they are! How unfair it is that these business managers and employees should get bonuses regardless of performance, and then when bonuses don’t get paid how the states are negatively impacted by not collecting taxes. How about talking about LEADERSHIP? If organizations get back to basics and structuring for core, profitable, sustainable performance, where LEADERS can know what is going on in the organizations they LEAD, then those organizations can compete and do business based on sound principles and not on slight of hand. They won’t need government bailouts or unsound lending practices. If an organization grows bigger, it will be because they are CAPABLE of MANAGING and LEADING the business, and not simply through mergers and acquisitions, growing bigger and bigger with no corporate (or government) oversight—or clue—as to what is actually occurring in the organization. Bigger and bigger isn’t better when no one is minding the store, or leading the organization ethically down a sustainable, profitable, strategically sound operational path.

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