The hospital was a large one, with almost 1,000 beds and over 4,000 employees. On this Tuesday, an announcement came blaring over the public address system, “Code Blue, Room 6302, Code Blue, Room 6302”. Those four words triggered a lot of activity because the phrase meant the patient in 6302 needs resuscitation immediately. A team of people immediately spring into action to help save the patient’s life. Connie heard the announcement and immediately started walking very fast, almost jogging. She told herself she needed to get to 6302. As she came around the corner on the 6th floor, someone was moving the crash cart (a cart with everything needed to treat someone having a cardiac arrest) into her path. She saw it and tried to get out of the way and in doing so, she tripped and fell. Now she needed medical care as her foot was broken.

What was your immediate reaction to the story? Sympathy for Connie who was valiantly rushing to a room to help save someone’s life, and then broke her foot? What if you learned she was in nursing leadership, one of the three highest ranking nursing executives in the hospital? You might wonder, as I did when I heard the story, why was she rushing, it wasn’t her responsibility. Don’t get me wrong, it was a nice thing to do, but not necessary. In fact, her presence (if she’d made it) might make the team wonder if she didn’t trust them to do it on their own.

If you are a leader, or want to be a leader, remember this little phrase:

My responsibility is not to make all decisions. My responsibility is to make certain the right decisions are made by the right people.

In developing my team to make the right decisions, I focused on three things when we met.

  1. Who should make the decision? – If they were delegating the decision up to me, I had to resist jumping in to make it. The more decisions I made meant I’ll have more decisions to make in the future, even the insignificant ones. I first needed to understand why the decision was being brought to me. Chances are no one felt empowered or prepared to make the decision. That was on me to fix, so if it didn’t need to be made by me, I needed to give the decision to the right person and help them.
  2. What needs to be considered? – I asked a lot of questions, resisting the urge to give the answer. I wanted to understand their decision-making process, i.e., what they were thinking about and why. If they missed something important, and they will, I didn’t point it out directly, but instead asked, “have you considered …?” My job was to make certain they looked at everything in making their decisions.
  3. What if circumstances are different? – Since circumstances are never the same, I often took the opportunity to engage them further. I would change the circumstances a little and then ask what their decision would be. This is how I learned if they saw things as “black or white”, or if they could see “shades of grey.” Good decision makers understand the grey areas.

If you want to move up in your organization, or enjoy more time with your family, it starts with having a team that can make the right decisions when you aren’t around.

When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?”  Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.”  Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Exodus 18:14-18



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