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How willing are you to take a risk and let team members make decisions?


SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 220,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

How willing are you to take a risk and let team members make decisions?

  • Very: I always let them make decisions irrespective of risk: 12.3%
  • Mostly: I let them make decisions within reasonable limits: 83.6%
  • Not very: I withhold most decision making authority for myself: 3.1%
  • Not at all: I need to make all the decisions because of the risks: 0.9%

Empower your people. The vast majority of you leave it to your teams to make decisions. It’s a matter of balancing risk and empowerment. The more you empower, the more risk you assume. For bigger decisions where you’re going to empower your team members, be specific about the risks you’re going to take, and ensure you back those team members up if things go wrong. For those of you not yet empowering your people, start with some small decisions, and see how it goes. If they make good decisions, keep increasing their decision-making scope. It’s the only way they’re going to build the skills themselves.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He’s the author of three leadership books: “One Piece of Paper,” “Lead Inside the Box” and “The Elegant Pitch.”