Mark’s Musings

Shaping Leadership Through Strategic Decision-Making: A Shift in Executive Development

By Mark Aesch, CEO
In a dynamic era of public sector leadership evolution, our People Practice stands at the forefront, actively collaborating with organizations across North America on executive placement, succession planning, performance-based evaluations, and, at its core, decision-making—a subject close to my heart.

While some may dub this endeavor as leadership training or professional development, the truth is, that genuine leaders are not merely trained; they are forged through the practice of decision-making. Delving into the intricacies of how to think, what to contemplate, when to engage, and the art of execution forms the bedrock of leadership.

Our recent immersive decision-making session with a cohort of executives in Texas was developed to exercise participants decision-making muscle. Crucially, for this and other leadership workshops, we refrain from labeling it as training; rather, it is an investment in refining mindsets crucial to effective leadership.

Here are the key facets encapsulating our work with executives across the nation:

1. Clarity of Success

Achieving success requires a deliberate focus. We advocate against overloading organizations and individuals with an exhaustive array of priorities. A commitment to excellence necessitates a focused portfolio.

2. Empowerment of Team

General Patton’s wisdom echoes in our approach—clearly articulate objectives and marvel at the team’s ingenuity. This, however, demands a precise definition of the desired outcome.

3. Meaningful Feedback

Within our national measurement of Employee Engagement, the importance of “frequent and meaningful feedback” emerges as a core component. Striking a balance is key; an abundance of perfect ratings dilutes the significance of the process. Embrace forthright feedback and recognize the value of ‘meets expectations.’

4. Coaching

Dispel the notion that formal coaching is a weakness. True leadership involves vulnerability, an eagerness to explore blind spots, and an environment conducive to receiving constructive feedback on behavior, decisions, and performance.

5. Informed Risk

Public sector incentives often impede organizational performance. Contrasting the private sector’s immediate rewards, the public sector’s deferred gratification through pensions and healthcare can stifle decision-making. Encouraging informed risk-taking and short-term incentives can foster innovation and empower employees.

Over our 25 years of experience partnering with public sector executives and organizations, a consistent revelation surfaces: true leadership cannot be instilled through traditional training. Instead, cultivating a culture that nurtures thoughtful reflection on decision-making processes establishes an environment where excellence is not only welcomed but demanded.

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