On a date night with my wife, we asked our server to give us an experience instead of a menu. We knew our favorite restaurant served superb sushi, but we wanted to find out what the chefs would serve without any constraints. Our server was delighted to provide what she called omakase—a Japanese word meaning, “I’ll leave it to you.”
Omakase illustrates a team functioning at its best—when individuals truly own up to their responsibility and everyone in the organization can then trust one another with their parts. Indeed, the ability to confidently entrust others with what they are there to do is not only great leadership, it is one of the missing links in many companies. High turnover and low morale can often be blamed on the absence of omakase. Below are three ways to help your team develop 360 degrees of omakase.
1. Focus on processes, not results:
Focusing on disciplined execution of winning plays (the process) organically leads to a constructive culture where long-term goals take precedence over fleeting circumstances, victories, and losses. Centering attention on what you can control (processes, culture, etc.) takes the power out of difficult and ever-shifting circumstances (such as the economy, the competition, etc.).
Getting each team member to do what they are supposed to requires consistent, solid leadership and a culture that celebrates winning behaviors more than results.
2. Build them up:
Even though people are happiest when they’re growing, it’s easy to settle. No one reaches their full potential without leaders holding them accountable and pushing them out of their comfort zone. On the other hand, the fastest way to lose credibility is to come across like you’re trying to fix someone.
To create a balance, make sure your team knows you don’t think they’re broken and that you just want to come alongside them as they work toward becoming the best version of themselves. When planning a meeting or one-on-one session, ask yourself what emotions and beliefs you want to promote. A critical step in achieving a culture of omakase, is getting people to believe in themselves.
As much as you know you have to give, be ready to receive, too. Bart Braselton, executive vice president of Braselton Homes knows that if he’s not approachable as a leader, he’ll miss out on the best ideas because they come from the field. Being open to others’ ideas promotes mutual respect and ownership. People feel like it’s their business too. “We treat people like family,” Braselton says, “You’d think everyone’s last name is Braselton.”
3. Obtain agreement:
The best managers guide people to the peak of their potential, reaching heights that bring the greatest reward and the most breathtaking views. To lead team members to the top, you must gain collaboration by giving them options and creating the plan together. While you will use your experience and knowledge to lead, you cannot take the climbers’ steps or absorb the pain of their blisters. Climbers who own the goal as their own see dramatically increased success. To promote personal ownership, ask questions so you can understand team members’ goals. It’s okay to use questions to lead them to improvement, but don’t push your own goals on them. Once they recognize a goal as their own, use your experience and knowledge to come up with a plan together. Rather than telling people what to do, find out the climbers’ goals, lead them to discover the requirements to get there, and then share their options. Give people sufficient information to make an educated decision, and then coach them based on their choice.
When we trusted the experts to do what they do best, we got the benefit: new tastes and broader horizons/bellies. We couldn’t identify half of what we ate that night, but we left happy and recommended the omakase experience to friends. The same is true in business. Choose to create a culture of omakase, and your company and individuals will benefit in ways they didn’t even know to ask for.