Four Ways to Empower Teammates to Make Decisions

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Last week I talked about the importance of empowering teammates to make decisions. Teammates who aren’t empowered to make even the smallest decisions feel stifled and micromanaged. Yet many leaders don’t trust their teammates to make good decisions. So, where’s the balance?

Well, it’s not in being the Chief Decision Maker. After all, as leaders we are supposed to develop others so that they can confidently make their own decisions.

If you struggle with empowering others, I want to challenge you to both push and pull your teammates with making decisions. Here are four tips that you can implement to start empowering the people on your team:

1. Ask, “What are you thinking?” This is my favorite question when someone comes to me with a situation. I want to know their thoughts on the subject first. This sets the expectation and the standard for my teammates to begin thinking about solutions before they come to me. So what if their solution is the same as mine? Then I validate their idea instead of telling mine. This grows confidence.

2. Allow your teammates to learn through their mistakes. Give them the opportunity to recap decisions they made and assess the good and bad parts of it. This helps everyone learn how to make better decisions in the future.

3. Have them check in as they progress. If the teammate is new to making decisions, give them appropriate check-in points to keep you in the loop. Staying in the loop is less authoritarian and allows you to be involved in the process without being the “final say so.”

4. Set appropriate boundaries. Give your teammates boundaries to stay within while making decisions. The less experience the person has the more narrow their boundaries are. The more experience they have, the wider their boundaries. Getting the two mixed up will create a lot of tension on your team.

By empowering teammates to make decisions, and even giving them room to make – and learn from – their mistakes, you’re not only developing teammates. You’re living out your responsibility as their leader.

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