TSB 014: Effective Executives are Decision-Trainers NOT Decision-Makers

January 7, 2023

Read Time: 2 minutes

This week's tip: Here's how to train your direct reports to make great decisions on their own.

One of the key mistakes I see executives make is being the source of all decision-making. Their day is filled with responding to “What do you want me/us to do about…” or “How do you want me/us to respond to…” questions. This creates a revolving door of people completing tasks and coming back to get the next set of steps.

You must stop the merry-go-round.

Become a Decision-Trainer. Here’s how:

  1. Reverse the Question. Resist the urge to give a direct answer and act like you’re dining in a fine restaurant where the waiter knows the menu better than you and ask, “What would you recommend?” Then listen ever so carefully.
  2. Dig Deeper. Express interest and kindly ask clarifying questions to understand why they believe this solution will work and what the consequences will be if it fails.
  3. Find What You Like. Listen for golden nuggets of insight or hints that they are on the right path. Get excited about them and express your enthusiasm!
  4. Give it Back. State the next steps and prominently feature the golden nuggets you found. You may need to redirect them to the course of action you prefer, but if their insights and ideas are included, that’s progress. It will help them build confidence and take ownership.
  5. Ask for Progress Reports. Be genuinely interested in how things go and ask for an update at a time point that allows you to redirect further, if needed, without taking ownership away.

In the beginning, you may need to follow-up to stay informed, but over time, your direct reports will be excited to come to you with their ideas on how to solve problems and share their successes.

This will free you up to become their coach on the sidelines providing feedback and not their quarterback on the field calling all the plays.


See you again next Saturday!

Whenever you're ready, there are 3 ways I can help you:

  1. Build your dream team using behavioral insights and validated techniques by booking a free People Strategy Call here.
  2. Book a team-building workshop here.
  3. Sign up for executive coaching here.


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