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Leadership Nudge® 329 – Words for Level 6

At Level 6 on the Ladder of Leadership decisions are made by the people doing the work without your involvement. Leaders put into place the structure that pushes authority for decisions to those with the information. Let the people doing the work make the decisions about the work.

Learn more by reading this blog post: Use these Words when Delegating a Decision


Today I want to talk about inviting someone to level six, “just do it,” on the Ladder of Leadership. As you know, you have to be careful with level six, because what happens is the communication now comes after the decision has been made. So if it’s a bad decision, we’re in the unfortunate situation of giving feed back rather than inviting feedback before the decision, which is what happens with level five.

On the submarine one day, this Junior sailor comes up to me, this is one of the cooks. And the menu says rice, but it doesn’t specify white rice or brown rice.  The supply officer was sleeping because we had him up overnight. This sailor skipped a bunch of levels in the chain. He comes to me and he says, “Hey, Captain. It says rice, but doesn’t say white or brown. Which one do you want me to serve?” And my instinct was, it’s just rice. You pick. That’s a little too flippant, though.

Now I’m thinking, well, what does the crew like? What goes best with the rest of the meal? How much do we have in stock? How many leftovers have we had before? So instead, what I said was, “Hey, look, you know all these things.  You have all the information you need to make this decision. You’re the right person to make this decision.” I was trying to push the authority for making the decision to the person with the information rather than the opposite. And the result was he was very happy with that and went off to make a decision. I can’t even remember what he decided. But it worked out great. 

The point is just saying, “Well, you make a decision,” almost is like I can’t be bothered. That is the wrong reason not to get involved in the decision making. It’s put against “You make a decision because you’re the right person because you have the right information.”  We’re structurally designing the system to push authority to information. The people doing the work make decisions about the work. I’m David Marquet. Level six. That’s your Leadership Nudge.

 



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