How do you make your leadership decisions? There are almost as many decision-making methods as there are leadership styles.
Some organizations expect or allow decisions to be made exclusively by an individual or small group of leaders. Some leaders do a group SWOT analysis, where insights are gained by reviewing the Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats related to a needed decision.
For leaders interested in building trust, as well as making informed and consultative decisions, I challenge you to SOAR instead!
SOAR is a planning technique, similar to SWOT, which build on strengths by blending in aspects of appreciative inquiry. SOAR -- acronym of Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Results -- creates opportunities to discuss topics with those that have a vested interest in the decision. As described in The Thin book of SOAR, “SOAR sustains the values of an organization while honoring the knowledge, capabilities, and the spirit of its members.”If your goal is to build trust, don’t do a SWOT analysis. It can result in fear, hopelessness and a focus on what’s wrong.
Previously, we have discussed how leaders develop trust and the 10 key trust-building practices. But which tools can allow you to be more effective? Techniques like a SOAR analysis can support your role, allow the focus to be on the positives, build trust, and result in a buy-in with group members. SOAR can be used to engage youth voice, support negotiations, crafting an organizational vision, or identifying priorities that will shape your organizations future commitments. As a leadership tool, SOAR can be an effective trust-building strategy that allows you to make informed and consultative decisions.
To do a SOAR with your group, identify the topic of your discussion, create questions that will facilitate the conversation and find a time to involve others in the process. For smaller topics, set aside at least 40 minutes (roughly 10 minutes for each step) for answering questions. Invite all participants to share their thoughts without critique from others. Document each response.
Take a few minutes to try the SOAR process to use in your leadership role:
- Step 1: Choose a topic that you need to make a decision about.
- Step 2: Craft your SOAR question by adapting these ideas we use in my organization at program planning workshops.
- STRENGTHS: What can we build on? What are we the best at? What is growing/working well?
- OPPORTUNITIES: What are others asking for? How can we meet the needs of our community? Is there a new strategy or opportunity you have learned about? Is there something that isn’t working?
- ASPIRATIONS: What do we care deeply about? What are your hopes and dreams for this group? What should we be in the next three years?
- RESULTS: How do we know if we are succeeding? What are our results from the past? What could be measured that demonstrates our success?
- Step 3: Set a date for the SOAR conversation and facilitate the conversation.
- Step 4: Reflect on the results. How have the insights gained through the SOAR process affected your decision?
How can you see yourself using a technique like this in your role to intentionally build trust by making collaborative or well-informed decisions? What strategies do you use to engage others in the decision-making process?
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