The Twelve Principles of Leadership: Principle Eleven

During a twelve-day period of time, I will be posting daily one of the Twelve Principles of Quality Leadership followed by some questions you, as a leader, may wish to ask yourself.

Hopefully the description and inquiry will cause you to think about how you lead and what you may need to do to improve your leadership.

 And don’t forget to post some commentary. It can be a learning process for us all.

Welcome aboard!

THE TWELVE PRINCIPLES OF QUALITY LEADERSHIP

Systems, Leadership, and Teams

QUESTIONS FOR LEADERS

TEAMS

Principle 11.  SEEK EMPLOYEES INPUT BEFORE YOU MAKE KEY DECISIONS.

This is a commitment to ask your employees about what the key decisions are in the workplace.  They may be staffing levels, assignments, transfers, or taking time off.  Whatever they may be they are things that the EMPLOYEES feel are decisions on key matters; not things you or I think.  The commitment is to ask before these decisions are made.  It does not mean that you have to do what your employees believe you should do. (This is a very important point in the principles:  our commitment is to INPUT; we may, in fact, do what our employees want, or we may choose to delegate to them our authority to make the decision, or we may simply take their input under advisement, but we promise to ASK them before we make the KEY DECISIONS.)  Key decisions are the 3-5 things in the workplace that are very important to workplace satisfaction as defined by the employee.   They may be determined either by individuals or by groups of employees.  Key decisions should be discussed and an agreement reached as to what constitutes these key decision areas.  Leaders should then agree to ask for employee input on these key decision areas before they make any decisions regarding them.  Employee input does not mean decision making by taking a vote without group discussion.  It is the power of group discussion, hearing everyone’s point of view, understanding and deliberating, which makes group decision making far more effective than one person’s decision or a group of individuals voting without discussion.  When employee input is requested it should be clear at the beginning of the process HOW the decision will be made and WHO will make it.

QUESTIONS

a. What are the key matters (decisions) in your work unit that you, personally, wish to be able to have input on?

b. Why are leaders sometimes hesitant to seek employee’s input?  Is sharing authority (or power) losing something or could it be gaining something?

c. How would you encourage an employee (or employees) to continue to give input after you did not follow his/her previous advice? What would you say?

[From The New Quality Leadership Workbook, by Couper and Lobitz. To be published this year.]

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About improvingpolice

I served over 20 years as the chief of police in Madison (WI), four years as chief of the Burnsville (MN) Police Department, and before that as a police officer in Edina (MN) and the City of Minneapolis. I hold graduate degrees from the University of Minnesota and Edgewood College in Madison. I have written many articles over my years as a police leader calling for police improvement (for example, How To Rate Your Local Police, and with my wife, Sabine, Quality Policing: The Madison Experience). After retiring from the police department, I answered a call to ministry, attended seminary, and was ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church. At the present time, I serve a small church in North Lake (WI), east of Madison. Sabine and I have nine adult children, eleven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. She is also a retired police officer and we both continue active lives.

2 Responses to “The Twelve Principles of Leadership: Principle Eleven”

  1. b. Why are leaders sometimes hesitant to seek employee’s input? Is sharing authority (or power) losing something or could it be gaining something?

    As I have said before, it is an American cultural thing that the boss is the boss and if you don’t like it tough. However, I have seen good bosses tried to help the employees; however, the employees backstab the boss and o sabotage his/her efforts to reform the place. I have seen bad bosses also sabotage the good boss’ effore to reform the place as well.

    In the California Department of Corrections, you have wardens who use to control the medical department personnel; however, because of the various medical lawsuits, that responsbility has been taken away from them and the medical department has its own entity. The problem is that the medical CEOs in the prisons still face resistance from the wardens who tried to sabotage the reforms and the wardens tried to control the medical departments like if it was still part of their organization. Wardens are like a ship captain and a mini-dictator, they would hard to get those jobs and are not use to sharing authority. They feel that they earn their dues in taking orders and now feel that they should be giving orders.

    c. How would you encourage an employee (or employees) to continue to give input after you did not follow his/her previous advice? What would you say?

    I don’t know what to say. Nowadays, trust between employees and employers have completed been destroyed in the last 34 years and the employers are calling the shots and they are determine to keep it that way. Even if you could get your employees’ input, you have headquarters constantly not following through on the input due to their indecision, changes to the budget constantly, threats of layoffs or layoffs, job insecurity due to the economy with no end in sight, headquarters putting up one roadbloack and another and headquarters doing its own thing.

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