Uncovering Hidden Priorities: A Key to Effective Leadership

Nov 14, 2023

Effective decision-making is a critical skill for leaders. However, the pressure to make decisions quickly and often without all the necessary data can lead to poor choices. To overcome this challenge, leaders must adopt a value-focused thinking approach that uncovers hidden priorities and allows for better decision-making. By involving their team and considering diverse perspectives, leaders can tap into a wealth of knowledge and create a shared sense of ownership in the decision-making process.

The Challenges of Decision Making

Making decisions in complex and uncertain environments can be daunting. According to a McKinsey study, 72% of senior executives believe that their companies frequently make more bad decisions than good ones. This highlights the need for leaders to establish an effective decision-making process that prioritizes quality outcomes.

Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize-winning researcher, found that decision-making is often influenced by irrational biases and fallacies. Our reliance on mental shortcuts and rules of thumb can cloud judgment and lead to poor decisions. To mitigate these biases, leaders must seek input from others who bring different perspectives and expertise to the table.

The Benefits of Involving Your Team

Involving your team in the decision-making process has numerous benefits. It encourages a collaborative and inclusive environment where everyone feels valued and engaged. By tapping into the diverse knowledge and experience of team members, leaders can generate innovative solutions and uncover hidden priorities.

When team members participate in decision-making, they develop their judgment and leadership capabilities. They feel a sense of ownership and are more likely to support the decision's implementation. This increased buy-in enhances team cohesion and reduces burnout, ultimately leading to better outcomes.

When to Involve Your Team in Decision Making

While involving your team is beneficial, it's important to consider the specific situations that warrant their involvement. Here are some scenarios where team participation is particularly valuable:

  1. Strategy and long-term goals: When setting the direction for your organization, involving your team ensures that diverse perspectives and expertise are considered. This collaborative approach creates alignment and increases the chances of success.

  2. Learning from past mistakes: If you've made bad decisions in the past or received feedback about trust or lack of team involvement, it's essential to involve your team to rebuild trust and avoid repeating past mistakes.

  3. Complex and ambiguous decisions: When faced with complex or ambiguous decisions, the input of team members with diverse perspectives and expertise can shed light on different aspects of the problem and lead to better outcomes.

  4. Broad alignment and buy-in: When you need to ensure coordinated implementation and broad alignment, involving your team in decision-making fosters a sense of ownership and reduces resistance to change.

  5. Developing your team: Involving your team in decision-making exposes them to different ideas, decision disciplines, and problem-solving approaches. This fosters their growth and development as leaders.

Guidelines for Team Decision Making

To ensure effective team decision-making, it's important to follow these guidelines:

  1. Involve the right people: Consider the expertise and knowledge required for the decision at hand and involve team members who can contribute valuable insights.

  2. Communicate the decision-making process: Clearly communicate your decision-making approach to your team, whether it's gathering input and making the final decision or aiming for consensus.

  3. Set aside dedicated time: Schedule dedicated meetings focused on decision-making rather than trying to fit it into regular staff meetings. This allows for focused and productive discussions.

  4. Consider time constraints: Evaluate whether you have enough time to involve others and gather additional viewpoints. Assess the urgency of the decision and balance it with the need for thorough consideration.

  5. Define the problem: Take time to define the problem accurately, ensuring that the team understands the broader context and root causes rather than focusing solely on symptoms.

  6. Draw out ideas and viewpoints: Encourage active participation from all team members, starting with those who have knowledge and experience in the problem area. Create a safe environment for open and honest discussion.

  7. Consider side effects and risks: Encourage the team to consider potential side effects and risks associated with different solutions. Challenge assumptions and ensure a comprehensive evaluation of the decision's implications.

  8. Facilitate effective communication: Ensure that team members are actively listening, respecting each other's views, and building on one another's ideas. Avoid dominance by certain individuals and foster an inclusive atmosphere.

  9. Consider consensus or fallback options: Strive for consensus if possible, but if agreement cannot be reached, pre-set a fallback option or designate a decision-maker to prevent indecision or prolonged discussions.

  10. Delegate when necessary: If the decision requires specialized expertise or knowledge beyond your team's capabilities, delegate the decision-making authority to the appropriate individuals or sub-groups.

  11. Encourage continuous learning: Reflect on the decision-making process and outcomes, seeking opportunities for improvement. Encourage a culture of ongoing learning and development within your team.

  12. Maintain accountability: As the leader, take responsibility for the final decision and its outcomes. Ensure that team members understand their roles and responsibilities in implementing and supporting the decision.


Uncovering hidden priorities and involving your team in decision-making are crucial elements of effective leadership. By adopting a value-focused thinking approach and considering diverse perspectives, leaders can make better decisions and create a sense of shared ownership within their teams. Remember to follow the guidelines outlined here to ensure a collaborative and inclusive decision-making process that leads to successful outcomes. Leadership is not about making decisions in isolation; it's about harnessing the collective wisdom and expertise of your team. Embrace this approach, and you'll unlock the full potential of your organization.

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