Leading Through Uncertainty (Part V – Points of View) – Weekend Reflections for Leaders: April 27, 2019

The next few Weekend Reflections for Leaders are focused on the topic of Leading Through Uncertainty. I had the privilege in March to speak to a group of executives in San Francisco on the topic of Leading Through Uncertainty. There was a tremendous amount of interest in the topic, and I wanted to share components of my talk over the next several Weekend Reflections for Leaders.

Part I (Reality Check) – Part II (Purpose) – Part III (Guiding Principles) – Part IV (Operating System)

Today’s topic is on the importance of having various Points of View to make more effective decisions.

As the marketplace continues to grow in complexity and risks emerge from what seems like an unlimited supply of threats to the business, leaders need to ensure they are proactive and intentional about gaining various points of view from their teams to build a sustainable business.

Let’s face the truth that: (1) We don’t see the world as it is, we see the world through the lens of who we are based on our experiences, upbringing, and a whole lot more that academic psychologists fill volumes of books about. (2) We are not all knowing and can’t see everything around us. (3) The loudest, most confidant sounding voice in the room (and perhaps a big title or power position) still dominates most decisions around the table. 

These three truths are a recipe for disaster in trying to lead a team through the complexity of today’s hyper-competitive and rapidly changing marketplace.  The past few decades have seen some generationally dominant businesses, being led by “great” leaders, be completely dismantled into insolvency for failing to see beyond their narrow lane of past successes.

A leader can best position the team for sustained success by ensuring multiple points of view are brought to the decision-making table. Just like a coach on the football field relies on coaches in the skybox, players on the field, and others along the sidelines to provide different insights on the field of play, today’s business leaders need to gather information from a variety of sources.  

Here are a few ideas to help senior executives and the top talent on their teams be more proactive in gaining different points of view to prevent a disaster for the business and identify key opportunities for growth during times of uncertainty:

  1. Maintain a dedicated and sustained effort to physically place different perspectives at the decision-making table. Leaders need to work hard to ensure a diverse representation of players are at the table. Diversity of gender, education, experience, cultures, etc. need to be well represented. Also, the viewpoints of customers, external consultants, various futurists in fields relevant to the company add critical views to inform leadership teams. For broad strategic decisions, the various internal functions of marketing, sales, finance, operation, regulatory, legal, etc. need a voice at the table. Teams should be able to SEE the diversity on them.  
  2. Create an environment that all points of view are shared and heard by the team. Quite often it is still the “loud and proud” that drives a team point of view in today’s companies…just like it did in middle school. Leaders need to understand the personalities on the team and ensure, for example, the introverts get a chance to pause, think, and share. Leaders can begin by simply passing the baton around the table to ensure individuals are heard and points of view are understood before moving to a decision. Teams should be able to HEAR the diversity on the team.
  3. Provide influential communications and meaningful consequences to ensure different points of view are brought to the decision-making table to create an emotional connection to the importance and value those points of view bring to the team for the long-term. Leaders take every opportunity available such as employee briefings, routine performance updates, staff meetings, and day to day hallway conversations to reinforce the value that different points of view have made in key company decisions. In addition, leaders seek to publicly affirm individuals, groups, or functions that traditionally have been left out of voicing their points of view. Leaders look for opportunities to reinforce the decisions of other leaders who are enabling the acceleration of diverse points of view and they also have the courage to have difficult conversations and determine the consequences for those who are not supportive of enabling various points of view to have a position of influence in the organization. Teams should be able to FEEL the diversity on the team.

As senior executives and the top talent on their teams look to lead through times of uncertainty, there is a critical need to ensure various points of view are placed at the decision-making table to ensure more effective decisions are made for the team.

What if I were to ask you, “What is the most difficult leadership challenge you are facing today?” What would you say? 

Here are a few resources to HELP YOU:

  1. Download FREE resources, including the 4 A’s of Leadership, at www.harvesttimepartners.com
  2. Contact me. Email: david@harvesttimepartners.com (M) 269-370-9275
  3. Check out my latest book, Looking Back-What I Learned When I Left a Great Company, for helpful insights on leadership, building a great business, and winning the war on top talent.

David Esposito