Leaders, traditionally, issued orders and the orders were carried out without questioning. Those looking for direction, expect and accept the authoritative feel because it somehow instills confidence because the leader sounds like he/she knows what to do. If you are familiar with military culture, this language is understandable, it is time-tested and is of course one-way (can you imagine the army commander asking the troops, ’what do you think? Should we fire?’).
Today’s workplace has evolved several times over and is continuing to evolve. Engagement is the key – the workforce must know why. Not just why but what input has led to deciding the course of the direction. Without this engagement, directives may be issued but not followed with commitment and managers and leaders will do well to adopt this language of leadership:
-Involve the representatives in the run up to decision making. It is important that everyone gets a say by asking, ‘What do you think?’
-Encourage ideas. Every input is important.
-Do not be bluntly critical, even if a suggestion is unacceptable. Don’t say, ‘That won’t work.’ Instead, say, ‘I don’t think this might work because of..' 'What do you think?’
-Assess the consensus. Why do the majority feel the way they do?
-Take a decision even if your final decision must go against the consensus and explain why you believe it must be done this way.
Credible leadership is a combination of collective engagement and personal accountability.
Notwithstanding any process of engagement, your stand on the matter is the key or else the process will seem no better than an employee opinion-poll exercise.