Do You Make Decisions As A Team?

Thinking for ourselves is how we really know what our next step to success is. Asking others questions is how we help others to think for themselves so that they can do the same.

When I begin to lead a new team, it fills me with so much joy. It gives me the opportunity to lead more people, help more people, and spread my message even further. There is nothing better than leading a team through a transformation or a change, and seeing them grow throughout the process.

1. Asking Open Questions

My process is to ask the team a lot of open questions, so that I dig deep into their minds and get them thinking deeply. Some of the questions I ask, I already know what they are going to say. However, sometimes I have no idea.

I love it when I ask my team a question that I think I know the answer to, and they correct me with either a better answer, or prove that I was completely wrong. It shows me that they are thinking deeply, and differently because they are not expecting me to just give them the answers.

If I was to just give them the answers instead of asking the team questions, then the team wouldn’t need to do any thinking, and even if they didn’t agree with my answers, they would not challenge them. Which would tell me that I do not have buy-in from the team.

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So, in order to make life easier for myself, I ask the team questions that they need to come up with the answer for. If they come up with the answer, then they have already bought-in. whereas if they are just told what to do, it would be a lot harder for me to get the team’s buy-in.

When the team are coming up with the answers and the solutions, everyone is bought-in, and everyone is involved in the decision making process. When you make a decision with your team, and value everyone’s input, the team will feel respected.

2. Why We Must Make Decisions As A Team

There are a lot of low performing leaders who think that it is their role to make all of the decisions, and come up with all the answers. For a lot of these leaders, they have not had the leadership development they have needed so they can learn that it is not their role at all to provide all the answers, and make all of the decisions.

These are not bad people, or have bad intentions, they just don’t know. I was one of these leaders. I thought that if I made all of the decisions and had all the answers then I would be helping my team. But, I was actually pulling the team back, and depriving them of the opportunity to think for themselves.

There are other low performing leaders who like to come up with all the answers because of their ego. They like to look like the leader who knows everything. They actually think it makes them look good, when it doesn’t.

Low performing leaders who make all the decisions, give all the directions, and come up with all the answers may change things for a short time. But long term, leading like that will only hinder the team and their progress. By not making the team think for themselves, or even think at all is pulling them back.

Low performing leaders do not think long term, they only really look for quick wins. They say they think long term, but they really don’t.

A lot of low performing leaders cannot see past today. The furthest that a low performing leader will think is next week. That is not long term thinking at all.

They do not have their team’s best interests at heart, even though they say they do. Giving the team the answers that they should be thinking of themselves does not help them, it hinders them.

3. Long Term Thinking

Highly effective leaders are always thinking long term. They are “big picture” thinkers. Their long term thinking is focussed on their people, not on the product or service that the organisation provides.

Highly effective leaders know that when they are asking their team open questions, and getting them thinking deeply, they are increasing their influence with them.

They know this because they are giving influence to their team, which in turn increases their own influence. Give influence to a person, and you will receive influence. Give to receive.

What you must realise and put a stop to today is, thinking for others. Whether that be your team, your colleagues, your friends, or your family. By answering people’s questions for them, and doing their thinking for them does not help them at all.

It actually pulls them back, rather than propels them forward. Helping people to think for themselves is how you help them to grow, and how you do that is by asking them open questions. Getting them to think deeply, and come up with their own solutions, ideas, and make their own decisions.

4. Inspire Self-Thinking

Asking open questions is thought provoking for your team member. It will create a spark in them to start thinking for themselves, and they will need to spend the time trying to come to the answer or the solution. So, let them spend that time thinking, and don’t rush them.

A great way to challenge yourself when you are leading your team is, only lead them with questions. Do your very, very best to not give your team any directions whatsoever. The only answers you can give them to their questions is an open question.

Do this for about a week, and see the difference in your team when they are forced to start thinking for themselves.

It is difficult to pull off when leading your team with questions only because you feel the urge to just give them the answer. Especially if it is just a small thing they are asking you about. But, believe me, leading with questions works. It will get both you and the team into new habits.

You will get into the habit of asking questions, and intentionally helping your team to think for themselves. It will become second nature to you. Your team will get into the habit of thinking for themselves, and they will reduce the number of questions they ask you on a daily basis.

When I was engineering production manager in Scotland, I tried this technique when we used to have our one o’clock catch up meetings. Every shift we used to have a one o’clock catch up to see how the day was going, no matter if it was dayshift or nightshift.

Usually this was the time when I would get bombarded with questions. But for a couple of weeks, I made sure I answered their questions with open questions. I couldn’t believe the difference in how the team were thinking.

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They were a lot more prone to coming up with their own ideas without needing my permission, and our one o’clock catch up meetings became more of a discussion and joint decision making process, rather than me having all the answers.

You could “feel” the difference in the team, and I could feel the difference in all of us when we were together. Asking thought provoking, open questions to the team definitely brought us together a lot more, and we were making decisions together.

If anything went wrong, I was accountable. When things went right, the team got the credit. That’s how I saw it, and the team felt respected because of it.

Leading your team with questions is how you make decisions as a team. When you make decisions as a team, the team feels a lot better. The team are more willing to listen to each other and help each other. You as the leader will find it a lot easier to gain the team’s buy-in, and as a leader this is all you need to make things happen.

A simple open question can lead to something amazing.

I welcome hearing how this post has influenced the way you think, the way you lead, or the results you have achieved because of what you’ve learned in it. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below.

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All the best,

Tom (LeadGrowInfluence)

30 thoughts on “Do You Make Decisions As A Team?

  1. Hi, Tom,

    What you’ve explained in this article makes so much sense to me.

    I wish all of the leaders were adopting this kind of attitude with their team.

    There’s so much potential to make the team more united and its job more effective and productive.

    Should I mention that every member of a team would come to work with so much pleasure.

    Thank you for sharing today!

    Cheers,
    Ionut

    1. Hi Ionut,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that this article made so much sense to you.

      I too wish all leaders would adopt this kind of attitude too. I hope that the leaders who read this article will take action on what they learn. I hope they do the same on my other articles too 🙂

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  2. Got some real value from this man. Really liked the idea of asking open questions. Not only would that get them thinking, but it also would build engagement and make them feel like they are a part of the team and that you value their input.

    I always try to create engagement with my team. I don’t want to lead from the top down and have them feel like I am a dictator and it is my way or the high way.

    Asking open questions and getting their input and actually acting on their input has allowed my team to understand that they have a say in how we do things. It makes for a much better working relationship.

    Appreciate your leadership.

    Cheers

    Robb

    1. Hi Robb,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m glad that you took real value from this article, means a lot to me.

      You are right, asking open questions will help to build engagement and help our people to be feel part of the team. I appreciate you adding this principle and keep doing your best to create engagement with your team.

      Let me know how you get on with your open questions and if you need my help with anything then please let me know.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  3. Another great article on leading, thank you. It’s true, most new leaders believe that they must know all the answers but in fact, some of the best leaders are those that know the least on the subject and depend on others to come up with the best answer. Inspire self-thinking, great idea and I will be sure to use it more often. I downloaded your ebook and will have a look at it later today, thank you again Tom

    1. Hi Rick,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really happy that you found this another great article.

      Inspiring self-thinking is so important to me and lots of other leaders around the world. You are right that self-thinking should be inspired by more leaders too.

      I appreciate you downloading my e-book and I hope you take action on what you learn.

      All the best,

      Tom

  4. Another great article! As a leader I try to always involve my team. In most cases they will be the ones doing the work, I feel they are more efficient and more likely to own the project when they are part of the solution. If nothing else, i love presenting challenges to my team just to encourage them to think outside the box and get their wheels turning.
    I think this is very valuable advice to any leader! I look forward to more articles from you!
    Jamie

    1. Hi Jamie,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that you found this a great article, means so much to me.

      I appreciate you sharing your experiences with your team and involving them in making decisions. That is good so keep that up. You are right, they will feel part of the solution and belonging when you involve them from the beginning.

      Keep up the great work with your team.

      All the best,

      Tom

  5. Tom,

    Open-ended questions are critical to getting great answers. I know you have some experience in this as well. When I’m in a leadership position, I like to ask “how” and “what” questions to facilitate conversation. Your first point in this blog post is spot-on with creating a shared understanding within a team.

    I have a question for you. Your post talked about teaching subordinates creative thinking that leads to results. How do you ensure each person portrays their ideas? It’s a challenging task and one that I am trying to refine.

    To your point, l.eaders should not be the ones to make all of the decisions. Proper delegation is critical to maintaining a great organization. Another great post, Tom! Thanks!

    1. Hi Robert,

      Thank you for your comment. I am so pleased that you found this a great article, really does mean a lot to me.

      Your own expereinces with asking open questions of your team is so valuable and there will be other leaders besides me who will be able to relate to you.

      I ensure people portrays their ideas by creating the environment and culture that embraces creative thinking and openness. To do this I lead by example and from the front. I follow through on my promises and when a team member has an idea, I listen to every single one. I listen to understand, not listen to reply.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  6. Hi Tom,

    I couldn’t agree more! Some leaders tend to tell everyone what to do without listening, even when the decisions they make may not always tend to be for the best or the most informed. I like your method of replying each questions with an open question, making your team members think.
    In the end, the manager is a part of the team, and the team needs to work together, so everyone plays an important role. A manager who asks his team questions has their and the company’s best interests at heart. A manager who doesn’t may perhaps only be interested in doing his 8 hours and then go home, in my opinion.
    Employees will appreciate a leader like you described in this article. On the other hand, I’ve come across employees who are just content putting in their 8 hours and doing what the boss tells them to do. They don’t want to think, care, or ask questions but just follow orders and go home. How can a manager deal with such employees?

    1. Hi Christine,

      Thank you for your comment as always. I’m really pleased that you agree and found the article valuable.

      When it comes to employees who are just content with doing the 8 hours and being told what to do, it is the responsibility of the manager to help them change that behaviour. To do that the manager needs to move beyond their position and become a leader. To lead, we first need to build trust with our people. To build trust we need to build a relationship and know who our people are. What inspires them? What motivates them? What upsets them? When we know our people a lot better, we can then lead by example. When leading by example, we will inspire our people to follow us because they want to, not just because they have to so they get paid.

      That is the difference between a manager and a leader.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  7. Hey Tom,

    Love the post and is so accurate to me what makes a great leader is a leader who listens. As a leader I am there to motivate the team and make them personaly and the whoe team succeed. As a leader we cant be subject matter expert at everything and relying on your team can help achieve some of those long term goals you may have.

    Asking open questions is a great way to get your team to thinking deeply and engaging the other team members to provide a different approach. Once the team is able to provide there input as you stated they already bought in to the idea becuase its there idea and that will lead to achieving any goal.

    1. Hi Elias,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that you loved the article, really does mean a lot to me.

      I appreciate you sharing your expereinces and your practices as a leader, there will be lots of leaders who read this who will be able to relate to you, I am one of them. You are right, we cannot be subject matter experts at everything, and we should not try to be either.

      Keep leveraging your team’s expertise and involving them in your decision making process.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  8. This is such a refreshing article to read now that I’ve quit my very toxic workplace with very questionable leaders.

    I do agree with the fact that leaders will need to look at the long term aspect of the business which is nurturing talents. Unfortunately my last job had a very high turn over rate with their employees and they can only give short term solutions which is to increase allowance – without nipping the root of the problems..

    Now that I have my own small freelance business and aim to expand it soon, this article will definitely be something that I’ll go back to to reflect.

    Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Hi Wina,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that you have came across this article, especially when you have left a workplace of toxic leaders.

      Hopefully you can learn from these articles and take action on what you learn. When you do take action please share what you learn with your people too, and help them to become leaders.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  9. I think it’s important to engage staff in the thinking process and finding solutions. It evokes a sense of value and trust. People have skills, experience and natural talents that aren’t always evident unless the opportunity is given for them to express them. Of course, engaging staff this way must have a genuine intention behind it. Lip service breeds discontent, resistance and disengagement.

    1. Hi Martine,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m pleased that you found this article valuable.

      You are right, it is very important to engage our staff when making decisions on solutions to problems. Building trust and strengthening our relationships is how we will increase our our influence.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  10. I think it is so sad when leaders make the decisions themselves and leave out the others, who, many times have better answers since we are not experts in everything.

    This means that when we think as a team, then the solutions will take root quickly and runs deep as it gets firmly rooted in the organization.

    Thanks for pointing out that they are merely ignorant and not bad people when they make unilateral decisions.

    1. Hi Josephine,

      Thank you for your comment. It is my pleasure that you found this article valuable.

      I agree that is is sad when leaders don’t make decisions with the team and they leave them out. It’s even more sad when they don’t think they need/should involve their team.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

        1. Hi Josephine,

          Thank you for your comment. I’m pleased that you found the article valuable.

          Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

          All the best,

          Tom

  11. Hi Tom,

    Asking questions always comes better solutions and on your article you prove that.

    Good leader make the changes amazing way that’s how you mentioned on your article.
    Leadership mean’s community engagement and as you mention long term relationship.

    Keep it up and provide more nice articles.

    Regards,
    Goutam

    1. Hi Goutam,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m glad that you found this article valuable.

      I agree that asking open questions helps others to come to solutions for their problems.

      I certainly will keep providing my articles.

      You keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  12. Very inspiring text as always Tom, you write great and useful texts that every leader should apply in his work. If everyone followed your advice written from experience the business world would be one pleasant place. But unfortunately, most of them do just the opposite which creates disagreements and frustrations in the team. In the team where I work, the leader behaves confidently and does not allow team members to express their opinions. His word is the last. In such an environment where tasks are only performed blindly, no progress can be made. Also, he is always “as busy” so we are often deprived of answers to our questions. Do you have any advice on how behave in such a case?
    Thanks,
    Danijela

    1. Hi Danijela,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that you found this an inspiring article. It inspires me to hear you say that.

      I appreciate you saying that if people followed my advice then the world would be a more pleasant place. That inspires me even more to keep going and keep publishing these articles. In the real world we know that not everybody can follow my advice, but if I can make a difference in some people’s lives then I am on the right path.

      Thank you for the inspiration and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  13. So many leaders think they have to have the last word and what they say goes.

    Leaders forget often just what the word team means and how to get the best from that team.

    We all have thoughts and many of those thoughts, good and sometimes great often get trapped and never get heard all because of an attitude of one person.

    Multiple thoughts work better than one if they are allowed to be heard.

    A leader that listens and allows the team to participate in, what makes a great team leader.

    Thank you, Tom, for sharing another great article.

    1. Hi Mick,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really happy that you found this another great article, really inspires me.

      I couldn’t agree with you more Mick that so many leaders feel they need to have the last word, when actually they don’t. They need to inspire their people to have the last word and make sure that the last word is positive.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  14. Hi Tom this is a great post. There are a ton of thought leaders out there with some amazing ideas. A good leader listens to others and what their perspective might be. You never know what positive reinforcements can come out of this. At the end of it it’s all about how you can collaborate with others and be a team.

    1. Hi Viviana,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased that you found this a great post.

      I couldn’t agree with you more, a good leader does listen to their people. They listen to understand them, not listen to reply. This is what builds trust and strengthens our relationships.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

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