Leadership is sometimes thought of in quite black and white terms. People often take their ideas of what leadership means from other people, either by what they say or by example. When it comes to the field of business and industry, leadership can mean very different things to what it means in other areas of life.
There are often a huge number of key decisions that need to be made in any company, at any given time. These decisions are usually made at different levels throughout the business, depending upon its size and flexibility.
Senior staff and management usually feel pressure to make decisions quickly, and whilst they often take advice, decisions can be made without any real input from the people involved in carrying them out. These are some important factors to consider when it comes to leadership in business.
Any key decision is likely to have two real elements to it. Firstly that it is seen to be the right decision, and secondly it has to carry with it the people who are going to put it into effect.
The issue of any decision being right or wrong can often be a fairly arbitrary one, normally in hindsight, and often talked about fairly unfairly. However, that his life, and often in the business world people are judged by the decisions they make, and the effect these decisions have on the company.
What is a key element in leadership is involving the staff in the decision-making process, before coming to the point of making an actual decision itself? People sometimes reject this idea because they think that it means everyone has to be involved in making the decision. This is simply not true and masks the true value of real people involvement.
Listening to people who disagree with you
It is probably fair to say that given what human nature is, people don’t like it when other people disagree with them. This can be especially true in a company or business when there is some degree of hierarchy in terms of management or leadership. There can be real pressure on both sides to avoid any type of conflict in terms of a full discussion about issues where important decisions have to be made.
Involving staff who have to implement decisions, in discussions about what these decisions should be, has really important implications. Firstly the decision-makers get input from people who have to put these decisions into practice. They are more likely to be aware of potential problems and benefits if they have the freedom to express these honestly before the decision is made. If they are given the space, then whatever decision is ultimately made, the staff involved are more likely to really try and put it into effect, whether they agree with it or not.
Secondly, is the importance of the decision-maker or decision-makers themselves. If they hear something from somebody who sees it from a different angle or from another point of view, it gives them a much more rounded sense of what is involved in the issue, and how best to tackle it. They may agree or disagree with the point of view, but it will inevitably challenge them to think about whether it is right or not.
The right to be heard
Any type of leadership in a business is most effective when staff in that business feel they have a right to be heard. This again is pretty basic human nature. Alienating people negates that right to be heard and inevitably results in people feeling less involved in the project than they would otherwise be.
Listening to people in a meaningful sense affirms with them that they have been heard. They will feel more valued and are more likely to be guided in the direction that the decision-maker feels most appropriate, whatever the issue.