Focus Upward To Understand Corporate Decision Making

by Handlin, Liz Monday, January 26, 2009
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The challenges faced by businesses and their employees these days has got me thinking about the tough decisions that are being made in companies all around the world. It is hard to be in a non-leadership role in the volatile economic environment in which we find ourselves because non-leaders are often limited in the information they can access. In other words, employees in some companies are just playing a waiting game to see what happens next.

A wise person once told me that "When faced with decisions try to look at them as if you were one level up in the organization. Your perspective will change quickly". There is another saying that "Incompetence always begins one level above you". The point of both of these quotes is that you need to learn to think like your boss. What are his/her goals? What pressure is senior management placing on your boss? When you change your perspective from simply focusing on your own issues at work to learning what is driving your boss's behavior and decision making process you will find that you are able to be a stronger contributor. You will also become much more understanding of decisions that can be difficult to deal with from an employee-perspective.

Many senior leaders learn this experience as they rise into higher and higher positions of responsibility. It is very illuminating to step out of one's own role and to look at the world from the perspective of your own manager or your managers boss. As you see the world from a higher perch you take in more of the landscape and from this vantage point your role within the organization as a whole becomes clearer. You should be able to see how you can contribute more effectively to the goals of your organization.

In troubled times I think it essential for good employees to understand the big picture so that they can (a) contribute at the highest level possible so the company performs its very best, and (b) get a realistic picture of the potential for job security or, alternatively, possible layoffs. The more you know about what is going on in your organization the less likely you are to be blindsided if layoffs or restructuring changes become a reality.