A CEO of a very large business felt frustrated. She was inviting her leadership team to improve her decision-making and getting more than she needed.
Specifically, she wanted their help to weigh up acquisition opportunities. Yet when they shared their views, they seemed to expect that she would follow them. If she didn’t, one or other would feel undervalued or even insecure.
She rated and valued her team, and wanted their input. She just didn’t need the emotion that came with it; not least given that it was her head on the line if the acquisitions failed!
The Communication Gap
We looked in detail at her communication to understand why she wasn’t getting what she wanted. What wondered what her team was actually hearing?
She felt she had clearly asked them to flag anything she may have overlooked to ensure a robust decision-making process. As we looked more closely at her language, she realised that it wasn’t clear whether she was giving them a voice, or a vote. She wanted a voice. The leadership team perceived that she was asking them to vote.
With this new perspective, the context looked and felt very different. The root cause of the frustration on both sides seemed clearer: she wanted a range of voices to check the strength of her own analysis and challenge her reasoning. The team’s role, which she valued highly irrespective of which way the final decision went, was to strengthen the decision-making process.
Her team, however, each cast and justified a vote. Consequently, some of them worried about their status on the team when the CEO’s decision went the other way. Did this mean that she didn’t value their opinion as much as others’?
A New Way Forward
The CEO needed to refine her approach to inviting input from her team to better manage expectations about what she would do with it.
She needed to make clearer that she was giving them a voice, not a vote, and that the final decision would be hers alone.
Together we worked on how best she might do this. We practised it to iron out any wrinkles and amplify her capability to ask for, and get, exactly what she needed; rebuilding motivation in her team as she did so.
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