Decision maker or consensus builder?
By Russ Holdstein
What leadership style do you have as the CEO, and, which one works best?
“Our CEO spends too much time building consensus. He’s not effective because he doesn’t know when to take the lead and make the tough call” a senior member of the management team told me.
Two weeks earlier, at a very different company, I had heard, “Our CEO never involves us in key decisions. He just makes up his mind and expects us to buy into his plan.”
To be a productive leader, you have to be both a consensus builder and a decision maker. Sure, the role of a leader is to lead, but to get people to follow, they need to trust in your judgment and they need to gave a damn about where you are leading them.
That’s why it’s so important that you seek input into your decision making. If you make people a part of the process, they are much more likely to embrace the resulting plan.
But where do you draw the line? When consensus comes quickly, it’s easy, but when it doesn’t, how far should you push it? Decide too quickly and you alienate those who feel their opinions were not given serious consideration. Delay deciding to try and build consensus and you risk being labeled indecisive.
You need to recognize your own personal style and listen to what others are saying about your leadership. If you are a fast decision maker, slow down a bit and try to get more participation. If you lead by building consensus, be certain that when a decision must be made, you make it.
Once the course is set, you must stick by that decision. Second guessing yourself is unsettling to your staff and is one of the hallmarks of a weak leader. Find your best decision making style, use it to make the best decisions you can – then don’t look back, just lead on.