Leadership Involves Helping Others Decide

I believe that every choice, every new concept, every new action demands a decision to allow in something new and supplement what’s already there.

So whether a buyer seeks a new solution and must get buy-in from the relevant people, or a user needs to use the new software, or an initiative needs agreement from the relevant team members to move forward, or a person may want to donate to one charity rather than another, new decisions are necessary or change won’t happen.

What, exactly, is a decision? In Dirty Little Secrets, I define a decision as: “…a series of conscious and unconscious choices that result inchange that maintains the integrity of the whole. In other words, decisions must be congruent with the rules and agreement of the underlying environment, and certain not to create chaos for the system.’ (pg 239)


Decisions must maintain the congruence of the system they are being decided in. So if you’re going to decide to lose weight, your proposed changes must maintain the underlying beliefs around your current food choices, or you won’t change your habits. If you are starting a new initiative, you must make sure the folks know how to align their beliefs, ego issues, job identity, and social identity, with the proposed change, before they’ll make a creative effort to support you.

In fact, all decisions must be based on the underlying criteria (of the system) or they will either not be carried outor they will be sabatoged in some way. In other words, without buy-in, change can’t happen. And buy-in demands a new decision.

Unfortunately, leaders often assume if they focus on the correct result, offer the best information in the best way (rational, well-said, well-presented, nice) that folks will agree and follow. Or should. But we all know that’s not true. When we work hard at presenting rational, good data as the means to align behaviors, and then get push-back, we often blame the ‘follower’ rather than realizing that possibly we haven’t managed our leadership skills effectively. Not to mention that we’ve never been offered the skills to actually teach people how to make their own best decisions, separate from our biases.


Imagine if you believed that folks only made new decisions when their beliefs were engaged, and not on the relevancy of your request or information. What, then, do you do to ensure buy-in? Let me ask that another way: How can you make sure that you get creative buy-in for any change initiative that gives your folks not only a leadership role, but the opportunity to truly leave an imprint on the change?

Here are a few Facilitative Questions for you to consider:

What would you need to believe differently in order to see your role as a neutral navigator – a GPS system if you will – and lead change from ‘structure’ not the ‘content.’  What would you need to believe to be willing to give up your personal view of what the change should look like and be willing to allow the change to take shape from within by aligning all of the ideas and creativity of the followers?

How would you know that you could get the most creativity and leadership from folks without reverting to compensation, stories, rules, demands, or presentations?

What would success look like if one of your goals were to help your ‘followers’ discern how to add value to the change in a way that served themselves AND the initiative AND the corporate entity?

In the Argentine Tango, the leader is the vehicle for the follower to shine. If you notice the leader, the leader is not doing his job. In fact, the expression goes like this: the leader opens the door, the follower goes through (using her own personality and presence), and then the leader follows. The entire dance is based on ensuring the follower looks her best, and grows in the process.

Here is a relevant webinar. Let’s continue our conversation in an open format, where all of us can figure out how to move forward.


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