That’s why a leader must strive to foster an environment where you can get the best thinking from my team, hear the best advice from the experts, and make the best decisions for the organization. Of course, you don’t need to be an executive to make important decisions. Every position comes with critical choices every single day. Here are three ways you can ensure you are always making smart decisions, whatever your role.
1. Surround yourself with people who are different from you. Legendary entrepreneur and business leader Richard Branson once said, “Don’t be afraid of hiring mavericks. Somebody who thinks a little differently can help to see problems as opportunities and inspire creative energy within a group.” It’s human nature to gravitate toward people who are similar to you. Yet if you rely on the same types of people all the time, you will never move beyond the status quo.
Diversity is the key to innovation. Seek out people with different backgrounds, different experiences, and different points of view. Then make sure that all these unique perspectives are heard and included in your work. When you foster an environment that embraces and celebrates differences, your team will come up with more creative ideas and better ways of moving forward.
By cultivating a culture of inclusion, where everyone’s experience is valued for the insights they can bring, you’ll have the best information available when the time comes to make a decision.
2. Know what you don’t know. Hire people smarter than you, and listen to them. Great leaders have to know their strengths, their weaknesses, and how to succeed with both. President Ronald Reagan is quoted as saying, “Surround yourself with great people, delegate authority and get out of the way.” If you convince yourself you know everything, two things will happen. First, you’ll be wrong. And second, you’ll make the wrong decisions.
So if you’re a leader, don’t feel threatened by experts who are smarter in certain subject areas or better at certain skills. Seek them out! Build a team full of people who complement your skills and fill in your gaps.
3. Say yes to people who can tell you no. The higher you rise in an organization, the farther you are from the front line. So you need people at every level who have the courage to honestly tell you what’s working and what’s not. And when they disagree with you, they can’t be afraid to say so.
Of course, this is easier said than done. You don’t want to build a combative culture – where people find fault just for the sake of it. Instead, you want to foster a collaborative culture – where everyone feels a shared stake in forging the best path toward success.
Kelly Johnson, is one of the great aviation pioneers and one of Lockheed Martin’s legendary leaders. Nearly every aeronautical breakthrough for half a century had Kelly’s fingerprints on it – in large part because he knew exactly how to bring out the best from his teams. Kelly would carry around a pocket full of quarters almost everywhere he went. Why? Because he had a standing bet with everyone who worked for him. If they wanted to disagree with him—to offer a better suggestion or a different point of view—Kelly was ready to listen. And if they were right, he would pay up with a quarter.
The act was simple, but the message was clear. A good idea could come from anywhere. Anyone who wanted to speak up would be heard – even if that meant disagreeing with the boss. Look for leaders who value diverse teams, who know what they don’t know, and who aren’t afraid to hear the word “no,” the benefits to your business will be more than can be imagined.