The Team Leader Should Share Decision Making With the Team

One of the biggest challenges for a team leader is finding the balance between making a decision and letting the team make a decision. If your organization has decided to become more team-based, it can be a struggle to determine when to intervene. Jumping in too soon could sabotage your efforts, but not jumping in could cause a major mistake.

What are you supposed to do?

The key to your success is to make sure that you have helped your team define clear decision making boundaries. Clearly identify under what circumstances the team will make a decision and ensure the boundaries align with the team’s purpose.

More than likely, your teams aren’t used to making the decisions themselves so some situational coaching will help you here. How much help do they need for a particular issue? Sometimes they’ll need more and sometimes less. When your team is starting out, it would be worthwhile for you to lead them through the first few decisions to ensure they are on track. (Note the key word here is lead.)

A team-based environment is not a “hands off” environment. Your teams must be accountable for something and to someone. If you’re nervous about their skill level, set up a regular contact schedule with them. Attend their team meetings as an observer only. Give them feedback on the decisions they are making so they know when they got it right. Communication with your team is what will help you lead successfully. Make it as open as you possibly can.

What do you think? Please share any special tips you have for defining team decision making boundaries.

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  • it helps when the team agrees, before a hot moment of potential disagreement happens, how the leader – and the teammates will make decisions. Some team do not have leaders btw, but round robin the role of leader.

    • @KareAnderson, that is so true! It is critically important for a team to decide how decisions will be made before making a decision. I disagree with you that some teams don’t have leaders. All teams have leaders, they may just not have the “team leader” title. 🙂