Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Stop the Charade!

I continue to be amazed at how many executives get themselves into trouble with their teams by engaging in what my friend and colleague Michael Watkins calls the "charade of consultation."   The charade occurs when an executive makes a decision, and then goes to his team to "consult" them about the issue.   The executive might even entertain a discussion of multiple options, yet then steer the dialogue toward the alternative he or she preferred from the outset.  Naturally, team members see right through the charade.  Such leadership approaches actually diminish trust and commitment. 

Scholars have shown that people care about the procedural fairness of decision-making processes; they don't just care about the outcomes.   When leaders engage in the "charade of consultation," they create the perception of an unfair process.  The research clearly shows that perceptions of procedural fairness affect buy-in, trust, and commitment.  

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