Beloved Leadership #1 - Sharing Decision-Making Power

Beloved Leadership #1 - Sharing Decision-Making Power

How we lead has a direct impact on what a team or organization can accomplish. I’ve seen far too many leaders un-thoughtfully recreate familiar processes that brought out the worst in their people, and their organizations failed to thrive.

In this series of articles, I aim to identify leadership actions that will shift the quality of an organization’s output by evolving how the organization works in seven key ways. To create a beloved organization, you need beloved leadership. This series will dig into what that means in practice.

The book Beloved Economies: Transforming How We Work by Jess Rimington and Joanna L. Cea describes seven practices that evolve work from the typical soul-crushing “business as usual” to something profoundly compelling and cherished by the people involved.

The authors describe their multi-year research and vetting process that coalesced around seven practices. The practices seem straightforward but often call for a paradigm shift in leaders’ thinking that is challenging even to conceptualize.

Organizations that use these seven practices deliver amazing work and function in a powerfully engaging way for everyone involved.

Here’s the first practice: shared decision-making power.

When I ran this practice by a friend, they said, “Sure, sure, sure, get input from all the stakeholders…nothing new there.” I had to stop the train and suggest that “getting input” is not the same as “sharing decision-making.”

Rimington and Cea tell us that sharing decision-making power means “distributing the functions of agenda-setting, visioning, implementing, creative problem-solving, and evaluating among all involved.” It means “creating thoughtful ways for everyone involved, or impacted, to contribute and steer while designating clear decision-making protocols for each area of shared work.”

Workplace processes where “everyone gets a vote” on a course of action are a step in the right direction. A deeper actualization of this practice means everyone has power regarding what will be voted on.

We’ve all seen leaders struggle to hear input from others or let go of their agenda. This practice speaks directly about power sharing. The practice is not about anarchy or tedious consensus processes. The authors note that people will have different levels of power within the organization; the goal is for everyone to be powerful.

Beloved leadership that shares decision-making power creates space and structure for everyone to contribute informational input and agenda setting. It may mean deeper listening to more people. Listening to quiet or silenced voices is excellent, but also remember to give those soft and silenced voices power and support to design better solutions (versus listening and creating solutions for them).

Leaders who can free themselves from zero-sum attitudes toward power learn that power is amplified when it is shared.

Reflect on how decision-making is done at your organization and look for all the ways that process (from beginning to end) can be shared. When decision-making power is shared, leaders get better decisions, more buy-in, and better results.