Leaders: stop making decisions

I adore this observation over the weekend from my friend Punit Soni:

A practical way to become a better leader is to review at regular intervals all the decisions that need to come to you. And cut them by 50% through either delegation or automation.

I’ve never heard this notion captured in this way (though it’s a spiritual cousin to my old boss’s maxim that CEOs need to constantly fire themselves), and I like what Punit is getting at. Following up on last week’s OKRs post, the best leaders find ways of pushing decision-making down into the org – if their teams know what’s expected, and how to evaluate options, they’ll be able to act on the leader’s behalf without her being involved in every decision.

What I like so much about Punit’s approach is the intention behind it: capture the decisions you’ve made as a leader over the last quarter, and then think about how you’d avoid having to make a similar decision in the future. Note: this isn’t the same as avoiding the decision getting made: the goal is to avoid the leader becoming the bottleneck to the org’s execution. The fewer decisions the leader needs to make, the faster all decisions get made. The more predictable the leader’s approach to prioritization and alignment, the more consistent and complementary those decisions are – across the org.

Later in his post, Punit puts some metrics to how to approach this:

People think being a CEO is 50% decision making, rest inspiring and recruiting or other strategic tasks. It is actually 5% decision making, and then the rest.

Spending time really fine tuning that 5% is critical. Giving up control (not oversight) on the rest is as critical.

Looking forward to applying this to my own approach to decision-making in the future.

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