by Dan Woychick
In decentralized organizations, decision making is not confined to a few executives but rather shared by all – or at least more – members of the team. In theory, this makes sense. Two heads are better than one, so three must be better than two and so on. Unfortunately, it often ends up looking like this (click image to enlarge):
Empowerment and collaboration
In the modern world, it’s common for people to seek employment that not only provides a paycheck, but is intellectually and emotionally stimulating. Managers are well-served by building and relying on the talents of their people. When employees grow in competence and value, it benefits the organization and the individual.
However, this management style can go too far. In the guise of empowerment, a manager may blur job responsibilities and dither away opportunities by listening to too many people. If staff is consulted, but ideas never implemented, production and morale can suffer.
Decisiveness and speed
An entrepreneurial organization is usually considered more innovative and responsive to changes in the market. Generally, a strong leader sets forth a vision and inspires others to follow. However, the same leader can become a bottleneck, lack the ability to transfer knowledge or make difficult choices.
Finding the sweet spot
To discourage inertia, leaders must guide expectations. Not everyone who wants to be on a team or committee should be included. The leader must be able to set a clear direction and articulate what is needed from each person – and why. This exercise of authority can make some people uneasy. It’s hard to tell people things they may not want to hear.
Problems occur when the power structure is out of balance, either from the top down or the bottom up. To reach organizational nirvana – a well-coordinated and highly-productive team with clarity over membership, roles and goals – leaders must learn how to communicate with colleagues as well as they do with constituents.