By: David Suter, President

As the pace of business has picked up post pandemic, getting back to working as a collaborative team on projects is essential. With over 30 years’ experience in running projects for private, public, and educational institutions, I have learned that one key thing is essential for success and that is ensuring that all the key players have a seat at the table. I am sure all of us have had experiences over the last few years in which projects within our organization struggled as we waited on information, either internal or external, to move the project forward. Setting up the team correctly at the beginning of the project, ensures that the right people have a seat at the table to achieve the goal. Below are three key elements to ensure successful decision-making processes are in place:

Open Communication

We pride ourselves with being open communicators and not keeping information from the teams and people we are working with. We align with the servant leadership model of “If you need something, ask for it. If you have something, give it.” What we have been experiencing in business these days is that people are holding their cards too close. It seems people are afraid of giving up their advantage by holding the knowledge that they have, or they are too afraid to be transparent with the client on project delays. Over and over, we are seeing that teams would rather hold the truth until the end of a project and watch it blow up in overreaction rather than addressing the problems when they occur to mitigate the impact.

Give Up Your Need to Control

It’s often the case that organizational or project leaders want to hold control of the project very closely. This also relates to assigning work, delegating decision making, and management of information. As projects are evolving, it is critical that those with a seat at the table can address issues that are arising and to partner on solutions. Remember, the team at your table have all been selected to be there as they are an integral part of the project’s success. Instead of holding everything tightly try releasing control to others on your team and see how freeing it is to watch them shine.

No Blame Game

It’s a team and if we fail, we fail together! If a project doesn’t go as planned don’t look for the one person at the table that is going to take the fall. Great leaders realize early on that we win as a team, and we lose as a team. It doesn’t matter how much documentation you have showing that one individual failed, because at the end of the day you were all a part of something that either went well or was a disaster for the organization. One of our topics that we share with teams at the beginning of a project is that people are going to remember the last 5%. You might be great 95% of the time but the last push to the finish line is what the customer or client is going to remember. So, build your team to push through the challenges together, and focus on the “no blame game” to finish strong.

As we navigate new opportunities and pivot to change how we do business, stepping back and looking at the big picture will help us to see potential obstacles more clearly. It is vitally important to ask detailed questions regarding the existing paths of communication. This is the time when you have the best chance to ask for a seat at the table. Be prepared to explain why your participation matters. Remember leaders to be open, be truthful, and be clear with your communication in business and in life.

For more insight into our leadership journey and how CBSI can help your team check out our other blogs and resources at

Lead With Coffee Podcast: Episode 67 –  A Seat at the Table