Be Conscious of How Your Decision Affects the Big Picture
One more thwack of the snooze button or start the day? A full-on work outfit or “business on top” for a day of virtual meetings? Keurig or a trip to the Starbucks? To breakfast or not to breakfast? Within 15 minutes of waking up we’ve made at least a dozen choices, and probably without much deep thought. We’re simply floating through the decisions to make it through the day.
When it comes to choices with little consequence, save the brain energy. If you’ve done it before, you know it works, and it creates the output you need—that’s technical work. Use your authority to make the decision and do it quickly.
However, we’ve been making the case that there’s another bucket of work that requires us to show up differently. Adaptive work asks us to admit we don’t have the answers. Our attitude toward the challenge is not about “being right,” but instead “being curious.”
If the purpose is tackling a problem that feels important, but probably doesn’t fall perfectly in anyone’s job description, making the choice to act differently has to be a purposeful activity.
Taking the time to get clear on the choices we’re making is an act of leadership. Here’s why:
- We’re more likely to get clear on how the choice connects to a larger purpose. And we’ll be able to invite others into that shared purpose, even if the choice isn’t their favorite. When we pause to make sure our decision aligns with a larger purpose, we give space for others to be mobilized. It doesn’t need to be hours of discussion. But ten minutes in a meeting for a team to get clear on the motivation behind the decision can pay off in the long run. They’ll feel buy-in or hopefully be able to recognize space was given for disagreement before a decision was made. Eventually you’ll need to act with or without full agreement. But that space for inviting others to engage can illuminate new data and mobilize others to join in the work.
- We’ll be clearer on the competing values alive in the choices we make. When we don’t consider how a new strategy puts key values at odds, we set ourselves up for frustration, confusion and even failure. For example, a new initiative values innovation, but will require a team to change some of its tried-and-true process. Innovation is important, but in this case may come at the expense of efficiency. Some team members may experience loss. Speaking to that and moving the initiative forward are both keys to success. Having a conscious conversation about choosing among competing values will lead to more progress.
We usually avoid this work because it’s time consuming. Make sure you’re not going with your first option. That’s a “quick-fix” default showing up. Taking time to imagine a menu of options before you act will ensure more purpose in your choices. And that’s likely to energize others because they can see the work behind our decisions.