Choice is power

Welcome to the third of our six blog series – “Productivity:  Making Results Happen!”  Our mission is to offer you simple ideas that when observed through day to day work, will provide you with some new insights, new ways to see your world of work and new ways to behave as leaders.  Ultimately, when applied to specific business challenges, you will have the possibility of achieving your desired results in the face of any circumstances.

Simple idea #1 was, “Actions Produce Results”.  Remember, if you want different results you should consider taking different actions.  Doing the same thing expecting a different result is what most people consider insanity. Hope is not a good business strategy.  As Roosevelt said, “Do something.  If it works, do more of it.  If it doesn’t, do something else.Simple idea #2, “Speaking and Listening are Action.” We asked you to consider that how you listen and how you speak is the main way in which you deploy leadership.  Opening your listening to new ideas, not previously considered, and speaking commitments in the form of requests and promises, makes new levels of performance possible.

Simple idea #3:  “Choice is power”

“You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go.  You lead by going to that place and making a case,” (Ken Kesey). 

There is a big difference in productivity from telling, demanding or ordering people, to making a bold request of people and providing them with a choice.   While telling people what to do works in many circumstances such as emergency situations or when chaos requires some order, it does not allow for full ownership of the outcome or inspired actions to create a different pathway to deliver.  Predictable actions happen when employees are told, but rarely does that deliver performance beyond business as usual.  The main reason is that a request, if done properly, gives people choice – legitimate and authentic choice to either accept, decline or negotiate.  Therefore, when people truly believe they have  choice and they choose yes – they fully own what there is to accomplish and  they begin to create and develop new opportunities for action that would not have been present without their own choice in the matter.  It is the true difference between complying and being committed to something.

Choice is ownership.  Why then is this concept so often forgotten?  Many leaders fear that, if given a choice, people will say no!  Quite the reverse is true.  People want to win, succeed and make things happen.  That is the juice of work – producing results in an arena someone fully owns and is accountable for.

Another critical component is to foster this notion of choice by developing a work environment where experimentation and stretch are promoted and not punished. This also requires a new relationship to “failure”, especially when people are willing to step up and commit and take actions consistent with the delivery of what they’ve committed to.  Without that type of culture or environment, people typically will do everything they can to avoid failure and not step out.

So as leaders, keep choice in mind and we suspect you will be surprised to see how many people actually do want to step up and participate.  Direct and tell when appropriate and provide choice when a challenge demands rising above the norm and defying conventional wisdom.

How do you get people to choose YES without telling them to do so!  That is our next topic in this series, Making Results Happen.

We want to hear how you are applying these simple ideas.  Write to us and share your successes and struggles.

More to come.