So you want to make a change in your organization but you’re uncertain exactly where to start.

I totally get that.

If you’re sensing that your organization needs something new, something big, something that will be a game changer, I can tell you CEOs who need to drive transformation can’t do it with incremental changes or all on their own. 

They need the full buy-in of their leadership team and they won’t get it if the team is told what they are going to do without asking for their honest input. The best leadership practice today is to let the team know what the desired result is and allow them to develop ‘how’ they will accomplish it.

This leadership approach is sometimes difficult for CEOs who are used to making all of the decisions. But anyone can change how they do things. One thing is for certain, micromanagement leads to defection and can stall a successful organization. A CEO who is compelled to make all the decisions places a self-imposed burden to always be brilliant and often forces the need to make appeals to leadership and staff. It also places the burden of success or failure squarely on the CEO which means the outcomes are not a shared set of responsibilities.

An organization led by the leadership team with the CEO’s input and oversight places the responsibility on the leadership team to develop and execute a plan to achieve the goals and results the CEO has established. This also transfers the accountability issues from the CEO to the leadership team to provide a peer-to-peer accountability. This relieves the CEO from constantly having to ‘checkup’ on everything that is being done. For example, when the reporting and accountability is placed firmly on the leadership team the burden of success or failure is placed squarely on their shoulders. This is incredibly motivating to all team members.

One very good way to begin this type of leadership is to place the decision-making on the leadership team using a consensus-based process. A consensus process does not mean that everyone on the leadership team is going to agree with every decision. But it does mean that after everyone has been fully and equally heard and a vote for a specific direction is taken, everyone agrees to fully support the decision. Even those who were in dissent agree to support it.

One challenge a CEO might face is the tendency to kill new ideas that don’t seem promising. This kills the spirit of the leadership team and pretty much guarantees they won’t be anywhere near as active in their leadership going forward. When I consult with a CEO, I’m sometimes asked what to do about this. My answer is nearly the same in all cases. If you have never had an idea that didn’t work out, then by all means step in. But no one has ever told me that was the case.

All leaders, including CEOs, need time to experiment with new ideas. Allowing this process to develop in a leadership team is one of the healthiest approaches to building one that is strong and cohesive.