How to Be Decisive and Collaborative When the House is on Fire

Bossy leaders advantage themselves.

Decisive leaders advance organizational advantage.

Decisive leaders:

#1. Enable the inexperienced to act with confidence.

Inexperienced people require direction.

When experienced team members wait for instruction, there’s bureaucratic entanglement or lack of commitment.

#2. Clarify mission and focus.

Mission and focus empower decisiveness.

I saw a drama-mongering politician spewing nonsense about how we need to make sure the COVID-19 crisis never happens again.

Don’t bloviate about fire hydrant ordinances when the house is burning down.

People who talk about system change when the house is on fire are drama-mongering idiots.

#3. Define roles.

Highly specialized tasks emerge during crisis. Sanitizer is a new job during COVID-19. That job is about Clorox and high-touch areas.

#4. Eliminate or marginalize drifters.

When making people decisions, look for commitment, passion, and loyalty. The Lone Ranger harms teams.

Send drifters home. Assign them to KP. Get them out of the way.

Decisive and collaborative:

#1. Seek, but limit input.

When time is short say, “Let’s come up with three options.”

There’s less time to explore interesting opportunities when flames are shooting out windows.

#2. Be approachable.

You don’t have to be a jerk to give direction. Say please and thank you.

Yelling isn’t decisive, it’s bullying.

Decisive leadership is kind, clear, and firm.

#3. Employ an “I intend to” approach.

David Marquet taught the crew of a nuclear attack submarine to declare intention instead of waiting for orders.

“Captain, I intend to,” enhances commitment and leverages brainpower.

#4. Delegate authority.

You’ll burnout if you don’t delegate. Give the sanitizer authority to sanitize, for example.

#5. Encourage teams to encourage each other.

The danger of decisive leadership is everyone looks to one person. You might ask, “What do you admire about the people around the table?”

Decisive isn’t cruel or inhumane.

Tip: Collaborate on strategy. Be decisive about execution.

How might leaders be decisive and collaborative?

What are the pros and cons of decisive leadership? Collaborative leadership?

Bonus material:

Turn the Ship Around, David Marquet

Collaborative Leadership: Moving from Top-Down to Team-Centric (Slackhq)

Collaborative Leadership (Oxford Leadership)

“Defining a True Leader During a Crisis: How to be decisive” by Colonel Jill Morgenthaler (Investment)