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!


Systems, Leadership, and Teams




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.


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.]