A 5-Step Plan for Seeking Input For Leaders Who Tend to Exclude People
You’re spending time with people whether you seek input or not.
You invest time including people, or you squander time resolving the consequences of excluding them.
Excluding people creates self-inflicted crisis.
Excuses for not seeking input:
“Excuses are the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie.” Billy Sunday
- It takes too long.
- It creates complexity.
- Teams don’t understand all the issues.
The results of not seeking input are the same as excuses for not seeking input.
When you don’t seek input, progress takes longer, confusion creates complexity, and teams don’t understand all the issues.
3 results of not seeking input:
#1. Compliance replaces commitment when people feel excluded.
Compliance and conformity eventually become mediocrity and resistance.
#2. Decisions ride on speculation.
A leader who doesn’t seek input has a ridiculous ability to misjudge what others think.
#3. Teams become less relevant when you act in isolation.
The real reasons leaders don’t seek input:
- Inflated egos. You think you know what’s best for people you don’t respect.
- Listening is hard. Lack of restraint makes listening impossible.
- You’ve already made up your mind. Closed ears reflect rigid minds.
A 5-step plan for seeking input:
#1. Craft an intention statement.
We’re working to….
We have an issue we’re working to resolve.
When possible, seek input on crafting an intention statement.
- What issues are currently holding us back?
- How might this challenge be an opportunity?
Include the human dimension. How might this challenge make us a better team?
#2. Set expectations.
- I’m seeking input from several people. Use terms like, gathering, exploring, and asking.
- Avoid giving the impression that you can follow everyone’s suggestion.
#3. Ask questions.
- What do you think?
- In your opinion, what are some ways we might …?
Say “some” not “best” when seeking input. Don’t say, “What are the best ways to improve this situation?”
#4. Summarize results.
Why don’t leaders seek input?
What are some ways leaders might improve their ability to seek input?
3 Illusions all Leaders Face and Successful Leaders Defeat | Leadership Freak
If You Listen, Your Employees Will Step Up – businessnewsdaily.com
I highly value your blog and use it as a tool to ‘get my head right’ at the start of each new day. Some days I would swear you have a bug in my office because your topics are so relevant to whatever my current challenge may be. Today is one of those days.
Thank you for once again providing insight and guidance that enables me to be a better leader today! You are appreciated!
Thanks for stopping in today, Jennifer. It’s always helpful to realize we are making a contribution. One thing seems obvious, you care about the quality of your leadership. I wish you well on the journey.
Why don’t leaders seek input?
1. Time–I need to make a decision in the next 45 minutes.
2. Big Ego–as you stated.
3. If I ask for input and then decide not to use their input, I have to explain to them why I’m not chose their recommendation. (more work for me and they may be very upset.)
Why don’t leaders seek input?
We tend to think things through before presenting them, and can easily “fall in love with our own ideas.”
Time (and a bunch of errors) has taught me that ideas are best grown when surrounded by other (others’) ideas. That said, it takes a certain level of confidence/courage to say, here’s something I’ve created, please offer your criticism. I find myself doing it by policy more than eagerness.
“Why don’t leaders seek input?”
In my experience, ego is the primary culprit here. As a friend and training partner often says, “Your ego is not your amigo.” The second factor is haste. “Doing it now” often takes precedence over “doing it right.” My dad used to say, “Act in haste, repent at leisure.”
“What are some ways leaders might improve their ability to seek input?”
Make it a formal, habitual part of your decision making process. Consistently asking, “Whose input have I considered in preparing to make this decision?” can prevent us from overlooking valuable contributors.
“Closed ears reflect rigid minds.” Indeed! Thanks for another great “memory jog.”
Your timing could not have been better! thank you
That’s great. Thanks Karen
Also, it’s important to distinguish—
do you want input on the problem and proposed solutions or have you decided on the solution and want input on how best to implement it.
Thanks Paul. Your comment causes me to think about the style of decision-making a team typically has.
Dan–this post really stuck with me, especially the line “you think you know what’s best for people you don’t respect.”
I am curious about your perspective on how this relates to privilege, oppression, and dehumanization… I would hazard a guess that people of color, women, people with disabilities experience this more. And, I work in K12 schools and there are many ways that systems are designed based on the belief that children aren’t people.
Been chewing on it for a while… like with others, you struck a nerve.
Thanks for your reflections rdkaye. It’s interesting that we can make decisions and set up systems that reflect the idea that people aren’t people. Perhaps in some cases, we justify what we do by thinking of people as less than human. Isn’t that what the Nazis did?
The three reasons why leaders do not seek input listed in the blog are excellent points and I would like to discuss further. The reasons are:
1. Inflated egos. You think you know what’s best for people you don’t respect.
2. Listening is hard. Lack of restraint makes listening impossible.
3. You’ve already made up your mind. Closed ears reflect rigid minds.
These three reasons are very dangerous attitudes and thoughts within the organization. As a leader it is important that egos are set aside, have an open mind, and listening to individuals are very important to having a health organization. If a leader allows their ego to be inflated, do not have an open mind and/or do not listen to individuals then that organization has a negative culture. Individuals will not want to participant in having a creative culture within the organization since the leader will not listen to any input.