Who gets to decide?

When I work with senior leadership teams, it is often apparent that there is a lack of clarity between what is an executive team decision, and what decisions lie with individual executives, or even below executive level.

This lack of clarity leads to executive team energy being wasted on decisions that are not team decisions. The individual executives concerned are left feeling frustrated at best, and powerless and undermined at worst.

Executive time that should be devoted to blue sky thinking or regular reviews on progress towards agreed strategic objectives, is instead spent in the non-exec business.

Decision-making is slowed down, and middle level management devote time and energy to writing ‘executive papers’, instead of engaging in the important work connecting strategy to operations and developing their people. 

 This is not about having a clear delegations policy – although that can certainly help. This is about the intent and the way a team works together on a daily basis, and the culture they are leading throughout the organisation.

Three practical steps you can take to ensure relevance of discussion and effectiveness of decision making are:

1.     Develop an agreed and exec team purpose. Being mutually agreed and accountable for overarching role of the team helps clarify what’s in and out of scope for the executive.

2.     Articulate agreed scope for decision making. Being clear on what type of decisions are executive team business and what is individual executive business reduces friction and keeps everyone focused on the roles they have been put in place to fulfil.

3.     Review the effectiveness of your exec team meetings. 15 minutes at the end of a meeting to review your effectiveness – especially in relation to decision making – will help refine your framework and improve dynamics.

Inherent in each of these three steps is the role of the CEO, their leadership style, and the type of executive team they wish to develop.

Executive team time is too valuable to waste. Rarely do I have senior leaders telling me they devote sufficient time to strategic thinking!

Move what’s not exec business out of your executive team meetings to free up capacity for the fearless conversations needed to achieve your organisational mission.

Are you making decisions at the right level? If not, what conversations are you avoiding? What conversation is needed today to get things moving?

Go Fearlessly


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