The Decision Maker: Unlock the Potential of Everyone in Your Organization, One Decision at a Time
“As Dennis Bakke says: ‘No matter where you stand in your organization, change can start with you.’”
Are you one of a few lucky ones who love what they do? Do you get up every day eager to get started on your workday?
Being happy at work. What a novel concept. For most work is just that: work. One isn’t supposed to enjoy work, right? Are you now shaking your head in disagreement? Or is your reality the complete opposite?
Why are we unhappy at work? Is it the money? Is it because we don’t like the people we work with? The answer is simple: it is because often we don’t get the chance to live up to our fullest potential, to learn and grow and be empowered to be our best selves.
Often all these chances depend on managers who either do not give their employees full rein to evolve and shine and those who do. The latter can make a huge difference in the life of an employee.
Dennis Bakke’s The Decision Maker: Unlock the Potential of Everyone in Your Organization, One Decision at a Time explores this exact phenomenon.
Mr. Bakke takes an unorthodox approach to conveying the lessons of leadership he learned as a business leader. He does so through storytelling. His book almost reads like a novel—a fictional story of two people who were tired of not being heard and who went into business together to change that.
But when they become key decision-makers, they give away the power of decision-making to those who truly drive the impact to the bottom line: their employees.
The Decision Maker: Unlock the Potential of Everyone in Your Organization, One Decision at a Time is an easy read that does a good job outlining the process of empowerment within a company. At the same time the book doesn’t give you all the answers—it makes you think.
Mr. Bakke is right: nothing tells you more about an organization than the way it makes decisions. This exposes the true culture and culture is the heart of the company, the underlying fabric of its character. After all, decisions company’s leadership and employees make affect all levels of an organization.
Mr. Bakke’s idea is simple: “When leaders put control into the hands of their people, at all levels, they unlock incalculable potential.” It’s all about empowerment. Money isn’t the best motivator. People want to love what they do. They want to be a part of something great. They want to do something that matters.
The premise of the leadership idea Mr. Bakke is offering up is probably best described in the quote where he compares leaders with coaches: “We’re the coaches, but we’ve been trying to play the game, too. You don’t see the coaches dribbling up and down the basketball court. That’s not what they’re supposed to do. They choose the players to send in. and then they stand back and let the players play the game. You can’t tell a player what to do every single play. It’d ruin the game.”
If you treat your employees like kids and tell them what to do instead of empowering them to make decisions, you will eventually develop a stifled employee base characterized by indifference, and lack of motivation and imagination. They will treat the idea of innovation as a joke as they will be in it only for themselves.
But if you treat your employees with the belief that they are unique, creative, capable individuals who can be trusted, you will get every single employee on board with making your vision a success.
You will avoid creating the business in which people check their minds and their hearts at the door. All you have to do is trust them to do their best and empower them to contribute. When you release decision making to your employees, Mr. Bakke says, you’ll see more personal investment, higher satisfaction, better communication, and better decision-making!
The decision-making process outlined in the book follows the following path:
• The leader (at any level of organization) leads by choosing a decision-maker.
• The decision-maker must ask for advice from those who are close to various areas of expertise.
• The advice process brings multiple perspectives together to guide a successful outcome.
• But the decision-maker makes the final call—and takes responsibility for it.
Choosing the decision-makers isn’t easy, so the framework Mr. Bakke offers is this: Choose the relevant decision-maker based on proximity to the topic/issue, perspective, experience, wisdom (history in decision-making). As a manager it is hard to let go of both decision-making and responsibility, but eventually this model yields amazing results. If you’ve been on both sides in your career you will sense the truth in his assertions.
At the end of the day, great leaders breed more leaders. If you can create an environment in which people are engaged, productive, and happy, you’ve created a culture everyone is interested in building and growing.
As Dennis Bakke says: “No matter where you stand in your organization, change can start with you.” Pick up the book, soak in the advice, and be the first to drive that change within your organization!