The joy of an industrial age organization is that we separated the doers from the deciders. If you were a decider (also known as a boss, leader, white-collar, salaried person) then you made decisions for what the doers (also know as followers, blue-collar, hourly person) ought to do.
Since the workforce was not involved in decision making the deciders didn’t need to care about their emotional health. Instead, we actively avoided connections across the hierarchy because that would complicate the ability of the deciders to tell the doers what to do. The entire idea of a sterile workplace, devoid of emotions and any hint of humanity, was based on a structure where decisions were not part of the job.
Now, that has all changed. We want the doers to be the deciders. If we are starting out and we are doing the work, we want to be able to make decisions about the work. It’s better for us, it’s better for the leaders and it’s better for the organization. But decisions — whether the decision to speak up in a meeting, to suggest an improvement to a process we helped design ourselves, or a low probability of success but potentially high payoff plan — require emotions and that is the lesson of the patient Elliot story.
So, in order to involve more people in decision making we need to care about the emotional health of people. That means connecting with them as humans. What do they want in life? For themselves. For their families. Do you know? If not, find out. Connect with people, allow them to be human, model vulnerability if you are asking them to be vulnerable. (If you are asking them to make decisions then you are asking them to be vulnerable.)
You’ll find greater participation, more distributed decision making and a happier and more productive team.
Learn more by watching this Nudge: Leadership Nudge® 314 – Patient Elliott