There’s always going to be the CEO who wants to personally design everyone’s business card. There’s the CEO who is the absentee landlord and way too removed from the life and operation of the organization. The best CEOs empower their teams to make decisions at the right levels of the organization.

Leaders either choose control or performance as their #1 objective. A high degree of control by leadership will mean a lower level of performance.

90% of the decisions in an organization should never reach the highest leadership level. They should be addressed by leaders and professionals at the right level. Culture, policy, training, experience, etc. can generally supply those answers at the appropriate level.

Only the small % of issues which are exceptional in nature should get to the top leadership. They are not covered by policy, culture, or practices. They are long term, irreversible, and carry significant legal, financial, organizational, and market or political consequences. All other decisions can be made by others within the guardrails. The leader is only there if needed to remove obstacles and supply support.

Leaders must push down decisions not pull them up. It’s more efficient and productive. It develops leaders. It’s good for the team and morale. As one CEO likes to say to members of the team who might be anxious about making their own decisions, “There’s nothing you can break here that I can’t fix.”

Let others make decisions. Give up control to get more performance. Give up control to grow leaders.


From the Teacher: Leadership Lessons with Dr. Saviak is a weekly column with the esteemed Joseph C. Saviak, Ph.D., J.D., M.A., M.S., Management Consulting & Leadership Training.

Featured Image: