Why Leaders Must Hold the Decision-Making Key

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Updated from April 1, 2015 post

My leadership tour through Australia continues this week with several days here in Sydney, connecting with our ministry friends at Hillsong Church.

As I’ve been spending time with the leaders of Hillsong I’ve been struck by the overall health of their leadership culture. One aspect of this is evidenced by the clarity I’ve seen in the area of decision-making.

And it has reminded me that, as I noted in this earlier post, when there is fuzziness on ‘who holds the decision key’, entire organizations can grind to a halt.

Here’s what I mean:

Several years ago our organization had partnered with a local church to present a leadership conference.

The schedule was set to go all day Friday and all day Saturday. But noticing that there was nothing scheduled on Friday evening, a leader from our partner church said we should program a concert for that timeslot.

I disagreed.

And there we stood; standing at the door, not sure who held the decision key.

Ultimately I deferred and allowed our partner to program a concert for that evening. It turned out to be a disaster. It was very poorly planned and executed.

But the real learning happened Monday morning. The disaster that was this concert had absolutely no lasting impact on this church leader, nor his church. But I was digging myself out of this mess for weeks afterwards.

Because at the end of the day, the programming for the entire conference, including Friday evening, was my accountability. Not his.

And because I held the accountability, I held the decision key. But I gave it away, and paid for it dearly.

In short, here’s what I learned.

1.       Always be clear who holds the decision key

Whoever is ultimately responsible makes the call.

2.       You can’t share the key

As I’ve written before, there are no “team decisions”. One person makes the call, because one person is responsible.

3.       Never give away the key

Just because someone demands the key is no reason to give it up.

4.       Key-holders should be collaborative, but ultimately stand alone when making the call

At the end of the day, leadership is all about making decisions. But before you can make the call you need clarity on whose call it is to make.

So take a lesson from my experience.

Because when you know you hold the decision making key, leadership doors start to open.

How do you determine who makes the call?

 

the author

Scott Cochrane

Vice President- International, Global Leadership Network. Love Jesus, Nora, Adam & Robin, Amy, Dave, Willow & Olive and John, Fiona & Will. Lifelong learner.

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