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Leadership Lab

Decisions, decisions ... the five most critical for a leader Add to ...

This column is part of Globe Careers’ Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab

As a leader, you do have a choice as to how you spend your decision-making time; there are numerous possibilities when it comes to which decisions to make yourself and those that you leave for others.

How do you determine the “my decision” areas?

The criteria I used was payback. Where could I add the greatest value to the organization?

It’s not about what you enjoy doing or where your strengths are; it’s about where others will realize the maximum benefit if you focus your decision-making time there.

You may be amazing at financial analysis and enjoy dabbling in numbers, but if marketing is a critical element of the organization’ strategic plan, you need to leave financials to someone else and re-vector your decision making efforts.

Decide on these five strategic issues. These must be owned by the leader and no one else.

The strategic game plan for the organization

Leadership value starts with deciding on the organization’s future. And it should be created by the leader and not chosen from a number of options submitted by management. What business you intend to be in and how you intend to differentiate yourself from your competition can only be decided by the leader who is directly accountable to ownership. It’s not something that can be delegated to business development folks.

The values that shape culture

Values describe how employees behave with each other “on the inside” and externally with customers. The leader must decide on the values critical to their strategic success and they must make the call on eliminating the traditional values that are no longer appropriate.

The talent that gets recruited

Strategy and values are the determinants of the people you recruit. The leader must have their fingerprints on the “people strategy”. They must decide if it will do the job; it can’t be delegated to human resources. The wrong people in critical roles will drive your strategy to fail. I used to participate in candidate interviews; a great way to monitor how your expectations are being met, as well as a great learning experience for the other managers in the room.

The “customer moment” architecture

If the leader isn’t personally involved in defining what the customer transaction with the organization “looks like”, dysfunction results; everyone does their own thing and offers up their own version of serving the customer in an exemplary manner. The leader must decide what the moment looks like at the frontline level, where customer perception is controlled. Leaders generally don’t like to engage at this level of detail, but this micro-managing is essential.

Aligning activities to the game plan

This is where most things go wrong. The strategy says one thing but the people in the various functions behave in a manner inconsistent with the chosen direction. The leader must decide on an alignment plan developed by every department in the organization; it’s the only way synergy is guaranteed.

Strategy, values, people, customers and organizational synergy. What could be more important to decide on for a leader?

Roy Osing (@RoyOsing) is a former executive vice-president of Telus. He is a blogger, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series Be Different or Be Dead, dedicated to helping organizations and individuals stand out from the competitive herd.

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