How to Be Decisive and Collaborative When the House is on Fire
Bossy leaders advantage themselves.
Decisive leaders advance organizational advantage.
#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?
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)
Such a timely blog. The times they are a changing and the authentic, decisive, collaborative, compassionate leaders are the ones that will lead people through to the other side.
It has been interesting watching the various world leaders shine, or not. I’ve been impressed with Australian prime minister Scott Morrison, and NZ leader Jacinda Ardern. I’m absolutely sure there are many others across Asia, Europe and the America’s.
Thanks Rob. I think adversity shows us who we are. It seems like it shows others who we are, as well. Cheers
This is a great reminder that in times of crisis, quick decisions with as much information as reasonable are necessary. I bet data would show that the vast majority of those decisions were good.
When the dust settles, how do we maintain this sense of urgency and remember that we are good decision makers in the face of incomplete data?
I agree with Rob and think that we may be surprised by some of the orgs that emerge from this – as well as those that don’t. It should present some interesting case studies for all of those college classes in organizational leadership.
Crisis certainly has a way of magnifying defects in leadership structures, because best practices require practice. Leaders who don’t normally collaborate will find themselves making decisions in silos during a crisis, alienating both staff and customers. Leaders who are indecisive shift with the wind to avoid accountability, losing the trust of staff and customers in the process. In the end, if a leader doesn’t regularly practice collaborative leadership and decisiveness, she certainly won’t start in a crisis.
I have watched pilot plant after pilot plant crumble and fall (fail) because of poor leadership. Bullying, arrogance, misuse of authority, and failing to change a broken system have led to many lost jobs and opportunities. “Inexperienced people require direction.” Instead, I have seen inexperienced people given the green light to train new hires. That’s insane! I wish that companies would invest in leadership courses and training instead of going by resumes which are probably inflated for management positions. Then maybe our leaders would be better equipped to balance everything that it takes to be a great leader.
An appreciable, timely post when the world is fighting COVID-19 on a war footing basis!
I get reminded of Crisis Management and Turnaround Strategy in the Corporate field. We have seen such business situations and the manner in which effective MDs have converted business from the red to black with decisiveness and quick collaborative actions.
In the current context, we see the great leadership skills in Prime Ministers of varied countries to fight back Corona pandemic. Needless to mention, our beloved Hon. PM Shri Narendra Modi’s proactive tough measures to prevent infected cases to go beyond Stage 2. We really admire him and his great concern for the well-being of Indian citizens. He is acting as if he is a responsible CEO of the entire nation.
Being decisive during a crisis in not enough, rather being soundly decisive is a better characteristic. The people you surround yourself with to advise you and help guide your decisions are equally important. Especially in times of crisis, you should be surrounded by team members who have the expertise, confidence and drive to take the initiative in finding solutions. Inexperienced people who require a lot of direction or lack the expertise, should not be at the forefront of the decision-making. This does not mean that they should be completely excluded from giving input, but in times of urgency, you need to be surrounded with people who already have the skills and knowledge necessary to contribute to the plan. The composition of your team will have a big impact on the outcomes of how quickly and efficiently a crisis can be controlled. In addition, the dynamics of the team will enable you to be both a decisive and collaborative leader. You should be able to have clear and firm goals and your team should be able to freely collaborate to provide the outputs that will help achieve results. It is also true that in times of crisis, the most pressing need is to do whatever it takes to control the situation and limit the effects. Once it is all said and done, then it is time to look back, analyze, reflect and learn from the mistakes.
Hi Dan – extremely insightful viewpoint.
Being within the construction safety industry near the United States epi-center of the COVID-19 outbreak has proven to present challenges and situations that never could have been anticipated. As the industry adapts and evolves to ensure safety of those involved of the building process is paramount, health and safety is even more so in the forefront. There have been many inputs that have been recommended and broadcasted by many, however, to ensure I can fully digest and understand each situation I find myself listening more than talking lately. By not simply regurgitating information and taking multiple points of information into account before giving input has made my contributions more valuable and effective. While the response of leadership within organizations are driving the ship, it will be those companies who empower those wanting to make a difference in weathering the storm back to a sense of eventual normalcy. This is a time for those looking to contribute to the problems an organization may be currently faced with and showing their value by providing thought provoking and insightful solutions to problems that majority of leaders have not been previously exposed to throughout their careers. The constantly changing situation pertaining to COVID-19 has many unknowns, which is why to avoid confusion and spread of misinformation contributions should be encouraged for all but done so in a controlled format “manage the message”.