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Action Tip

Five key questions for when you’re innovating in the dark

Many leaders retain control of complex decision making so they can act quickly, and because they think their teams should concentrate first and foremost on executing tasks. But this can lead to burnout, errors of judgment and disengaged employees. When making decisions in the “gray”, it is often best to mobilize collective intelligence.

Based on

Managing in the Gray: Five Timeless Questions for Resolving Your Toughest Problems at Work
by Joseph Badaracco (Harvard Business School Press, september 2016). 


Asking your teams to contribute their ideas and to actively participate in finding a solution involves reconsidering your leadership style.

  • Know your limits: the myth of the omniscient leader no longer holds. Faced with the vast amount of information that needs to be processed before making a decision, being a manager nowadays means knowing how to harness everyone’s ideas and expertise so you can make an informed choice.
  • Do not be afraid to ask for help: asking your colleagues for help in this context is not an admission of weakness but a sign of humility. It is also a crucial lever for generating commitment and helps create support for decisions taken collectively.
  • Accept different opinions: promote ideas that are out of the box even if they run counter to your own beliefs and even if implementing them results in failure.
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Françoise Tollet
Published by Françoise Tollet
She spent 12 years in industry, working for Bolloré Technologies, among others. She co-founded Business Digest in 1992 and has been running the company since 1998. And she took the Internet plunge in 1996, even before coming on board as part of the BD team.