The High Cost of Leadership Indecision



For leaders, indecision is choosing inaction over taking action. Indecision is a choice that allows a problem to become a crisis, poor performance to become tolerated performance and potential obstacles to become concrete road blocks. Indecision also has a unique way of turning seize-the-moment opportunities into missed opportunities. No matter how you look at it, indecision stalls all forward progress.

When a problem exists in a business, just about everyone sees it. And the longer the problem persists, the deeper and uglier it gets. One of the fundamental principles of No-Compromise Leadership is: When a problem is identified … engage and resolve it. The “compromise” is when a leader acknowledges the problem and then avoids, ignores or procrastinates in addressing it. Employees then become indifferent because they figure if you don’t care … why should they. Leadership indecision feeds complacency and culture contamination throughout a company at a level that far surpasses the originating problem.

Here are some No-Compromise Leadership strategies to keep indecision from wreaking havoc on your company:

  • Obsessing is stressful: When you know that a decision must be made but keep stalling and obsessing over it … you are ratcheting up your own stress levels. Important decisions and increased stress often go hand in hand, but constant obsessing and “what-ifing” problems and possible solutions to death can push stress levels to the breaking point. Recommendation: When obsessing enters the decision-making process, it is time to push forward with a decision. Chances are, the solution options are not going to get any better … but the problems certainly get bigger and more complex. It’s time to run with your best solution. If it works great, you win. If works a little, tweak it. If it doesn’t work, try the next best solution. For what it’s worth, often times the solution you didn’t pick first, because it was harder and required more work and sacrifice, is the one you should have chosen.
  • It’s about the company: As leader, you serve, protect and speak for the company. It doesn’t matter if it’s your company or not … it’s not about you. When your fear, uncertainty or confidence issues get in the way of making the best decisions for the company, you become the problem rather than the solution. Confidence issues allow fear and uncertainty to take over and feed indecision. Recommendation: Stop beating yourself up. No one expects you to have all the answers. If the path moving forward is that unclear or the problem that complex, it’s time to seek help. Meet with a few of your trusted staff, pose the problem and explore the shared solutions. Seek guidance from a business coach. You cannot unstick your company until you unstick yourself.
  • Be realistic about the potential downsides: I always push indecisive leaders to answer this question, “What’s the worst that can happen?” Too often, leaders are afraid that making a big and necessary change will cause key staff to leave. Guess what? What makes you think they will stay if the problem persists and nothing changes? What if they decide it’s time to move no matter what you decide to do? People come and go. Make the best decisions for the company, deliver those decisions with all the clarity you possibly can … and if some people go … so be it. You move on and rebuild. Recommendation: There may never be a perfect time for implementing change. Sometimes your best decision is to push forward with the best plan and intentions for the company and your team. Those that were going to leave, and do, already had one foot out the door.
  • Dial it up or dial it down: Indecision dials back a company’s sense of urgency. Indecision is like a ticker-tape parade of question marks that pile up around everyone and everything … and you’re the one spewing the question marks. Question marks don’t inspire and energize people to perform at the highest levels. No one is going to charge off toward “I don’t know.” Recommendation: The only way to dial up the sense of urgency to fix problems and move forward is for the leader to decide where the company is going and how it’s going to get there. Throw in a heavy dose of vision and “yes we can” and you can almost feel the sense of urgency dial cranking up. Indecision fades away because it has nothing to hold on to.
  • Seize the moment: There are times when a leader must seize the moment and the opportunity because every moment stuck in indecision gives the competition the advantage. To seize the moment is like making a big play in football. You take a shot. If it works … you’re ahead. If not … you learned from the experience. If you never seize the moment … you really weren’t serious about playing the business game. There’s nothing wrong with being cautious and calculated. But great opportunities don’t wait around for everything to line up perfectly. Great opportunities require a degree of risk. Recommendation: No-Compromise Leaders are cautiously bold and willing to take calculated risks. And every now and then, they just go for it. Indecision never stood a chance.

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Please share your thoughts with me about today’s Monday Morning Wake-Up. Click below to comment.

Pass this e-mail on to your business colleagues, managers and friends. They will appreciate it.


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