The Mandate of Leadership


September 25, 2019

In our latest video series, Chris Paton talks to Richard Withers, a consultant specialising in Decision Games for the Pharmaceutical Industry. After 11 years of building up his very successful consultancy firm, he sold it and now works as a strategic advisor. Here’s Richard’s very own honest opinion of how he ended up in Decision Games due to his self-professed misdemeanours: 

“After securing a well-deserved 3rd in Physical Education from Cardiff I was launched into my first negotiation lesson – pacifying my father, who suggested sensibly the military may knock some sense into me. A short time later I left the army having led an “average” career leading unfortunate soldiers to places which I cannot name, not on the grounds of secrecy, but because I was lost. Halcyon days indeed. After (in ascending order of stress) business school, several different jobs and children, in 2004, with my wife Sarah, founded a consultancy serving the biotech and pharmaceutical industry. Amongst other services we ran many, many “war games”. It seemed to go very well and our business was acquired in 2015. Now, after a 3 year non compete, Sarah wants me “out from under her feet”, she makes a good point, I need a fresh challenge”.

Decision Games can challenge the deep-rooted beliefs that management may unknowingly have. However, it is the managers that need to know – and show – that this is what is required to get down to the realities of the situation. That is, each stakeholder will have their own reality of (or challenge with) the plan/situation.

It is vital that the implementers of a plan have a mandate to challenge what’s been decided and that they have an opportunity to do so. Decision Games create a safe space where everyone is given the mandate to say ‘this is what I think.’ Ownership and buy-in can be achieved but the opportunity to challenge must be allowed. It gives the implementers a chance to shape the plan that they’re a part of and that gives them authentic ownership. If they are in the room to solve the problem, they own the solution.

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