Business leaders are keenly aware of their two core challenges. Revenues are down and costs are up. This hasn’t changed since businesses began to exist. Neither have the typical causes. Sales people are in a rut. Marketing campaigns are not singing. Competition is tough. Expenses keep rising.

The result is workload overload and leadership issues with “under-performers.” But none of these is the root problem.

They are merely symptoms.

The root problem is the decision-making culture. Sales people are handicapped because someone decided not to invest in the Customer Relationship Management system (CRM). ¬†Marketing is ineffective because someone didn’t do the research needed to know how customer behaviour is changing. That person who is floundering didn’t get the kind of support he/she needed. Who decided that?

95% of leaders I meet are unaware of their decision-making culture. Like a fish in water, it’s just there – invisible to the insiders but more evident to the outside world. Your newest employees feel it immediately…and then they get used to it. Or they get out.

It’s not that leaders don’t know this subject exists. They just don’t know how to name it or what to do about it. Instead, they get frustrated with individual performers or the organizational “system” they’re stuck in.

Two words describe your decision-making culture. Near and Far. Near means hands-on. Far means hands-off. Of course it changes from decision to decision…but not really. Humans are creatures of habit and you mostly do it the same way for the same topics. Budgets, plans and spending get decided the same way. Near means bosses up the line do the deciding. Far means staff themselves do the deciding.

Leaders who intentionally “decide who gets to decide” sleep better and get better results. It’s long-term, strategic work that gets lost in today’s short-term thinkers who run many companies.

If you are tired of beating your head against a brick wall of inertia or repetitive conflicts, it’s time you took a look at your decision-making culture.