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3 Habits of Indecisive Leaders

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3 Habits of Indecisive Leaders

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What is an Indecisive Leader? What do leaders do that make them indecisive? Do indecisive leaders know they are indecisive or is it their style of leading? Indecisiveness is the inability or reluctance to make decisions in general or to come to a decision about something in particular thereby producing no clear results. What causes a leader to be indecisive, not wanting to make a decisive choice? Most likely it is the conscious or unconscious ideation that by not making a definitive choice, the leader cannot be ridiculed for a decision, moving in a given direction, and or for the consequences of decisive action.

What is an Indecisive Leader? What do leaders do that make them indecisive? Do indecisive leaders know they are indecisive or is it their style of leading? Indecisiveness is the inability or reluctance to make decisions in general or to come to a decision about something in particular thereby producing no clear results. What causes a leader to be indecisive, not wanting to make a decisive choice? Most likely it is the conscious or unconscious ideation that by not making a definitive choice, the leader cannot be ridiculed for a decision, moving in a given direction, and or for the consequences of decisive action.

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3 Habits of Indecisive Leaders

  1. 1. 3 Habits of Indecisive Leaders Rex Gatto Ph.D., BCC What is an Indecisive Leader? What do leaders do that make them indecisive? Do indecisive leaders know they are indecisive or is it their style of leading? Indecisiveness is the inability or reluctance to make decisions in general or to come to a decision about something in particular thereby producing no clear results. What causes a leader to be indecisive, not wanting to make a decisive choice? Most likely it is the conscious or unconscious ideation that by not making a definitive choice, the leader cannot be ridiculed for a decision, moving in a given direction, and or for the consequences of decisive action. A decisive leader would choose a direction, communicate that direction, and support and motivate people to achieve a result. The Indecisive Leader does not feel obliged to choose, take a risk, or motivate followers to adopt a certain direction and therefore assumes no responsibility for whatever the outcome may be. The Indecisive Leader is a master at deflection, play it safe, and utilizes the wait and see attitude under the guise of collecting input. Indecisive Leaders will make predictions, state that they will let you know next week, and create a pattern of no action through suggested actions that really never materialize. The outcome of this is disgruntled followers who eventually abandon their loyalty to the leader and leave (mentally or physically). The Indecisive Leader has a series of smoke and mirror statements that are half-truths and predictions. What never materializes is clear and decisive action. The smoke and mirrors can be a series of actions that lead to nothing but wasted time. What blocks a leader from taking decisive action?
  2. 2. The leader may lack confidence and or competence to take action, want to be liked, protect self, not want to offend, want everything to be perfect before taking action, and may not understand or have clarity around the issues, problems, strategy or goal that needs to be addressed. The internal mental process that occurs when a leader is about to make a decision begins with an external event or situation (business circumstance) followed by thoughts regarding that situation. That in turn creates a mental process to take or not take action: i.e. be indecisive or decisive. This is followed by responses that demonstrate leadership behaviors of action or no action. Accompanying the action are emotions (excited, frustrated, or angry) and physical responses (strength, churning stomach, muscular tension, or exhaustion). These three parts: event/situation, thoughts, and behaviors/action comprise a psychological process for all leaders: · The situation/event (what has occurred, what has led up to this situation) · Thoughts, personality, and reflections (emotions or feelings as to what is occurring now) · Actions or non-action (confidence) the leader chooses to take Outcomes or results the leader achieves may reinforce the leader’s confidence to take action or not take action in the future. See the model below: This Internal Mental Process creates the challenges and successes that arise for every leader. Think of the catastrophic events that have confronted leaders over the last twenty years. The attack on the Trade Center Twin Towers, earthquake in Haiti, hurricanes Katrina, Harvey and Irma and technology and global changes: all situations that created challenging situations/events that led to the leader’s thoughts and reflections. These events caused leaders to take action (decisive) or not take action (indecisive). Communication is not a substitute for leadership, nor does an expressed opinion equal leadership: opinions are merely statements based on assumptions or beliefs (thoughts), which do not address issues through action. Communication without action is simply empty thought. The event that causes a leader to generate thoughts/reflections leads to a choice the leader makes as to whether to be decisive or indecisive. Through the leaders’ Internal Mental Process (reflections), personality, knowledge, ability, skills, compassion, attitude, collected input from others, and level of confidence combine to support the leader being decisive or indecisive. Indecision is not the act of doing nothing, rather, it is a choice to not take action. Thoughts are in fact, a mental filtering system, which has developed through life experiences, which are the basis for decision and indecision. By personality, there are people who see
  3. 3. situations in black and white terms and can quickly and decisively act. There are those conceptual and intuitive leaders who play what if possibilities in their mind and sort through the hypothetical situations and come to a decision. Sometimes, however, these “what ifs” can freeze intelligence and experience, and indecision emerges. There are those leaders who simply want to be liked and try to accommodate followers and bosses, driven to please everyone and end up pleasing no one. The three main reasons some leaders employ indecision: 1. Diversion: Get followers to think about anything other than the event/situation - issue (keep people off balance) 2. Accommodation: Get people to like you through the actions taken or not taken which will support them liking the leader 3. Procrastination: an inability to make a decision without 100% information or unwilling to make an imperfect decision or take action Indecision Trait #1 Create a Diversion The leader creates a diversion so followers will think the organization is terrific. This leader proffers the illusion that all is fine and great. The leader is personable but basically does very little. When a crisis arises, this leader deflects and causes chaos in unrelated areas, keeping people off balance. An example would be the loss of a major client, which is devastating to the organization. Instead of taking quick and decisive action to address the situation, the Indecisive Leader creates a diversion on an unrelated issue such as issuing a memo on last year’s bonuses. The leader redirects everyone’s attention and gets people talking about what was wrong with the bonus program instead of addressing the major issues at hand. This indecisive action leads to executives having discussions about the bonus program and not addressing the major issue, the loss of the biggest client. Why would this occur? The leader does not know how or what to do, does not know how to motivate the employees to acquire another major client, does not want to admit the loss of a major client under his/her watch, or simply ego gets in the way. When confronted with the problem of the loss of the major client these types of leaders say they have a plan, it is great, and they will give out the details next Wednesday. Wednesday comes and goes and there is no plan (more indecision). Finally, when confronted with the loss of major client, the Indecisive Leaders indicate that “it is really, really difficult and they are working on it”. The next thing that occurs is the VP of sales has announced his resignation even though everyone knows he was not the reason for the loss of the client. What leadership action was taken to address the issue of the loss of a major client? Absolutely none, but now, the attention is on replacing the VP. The lack of decisiveness was, in fact, an exploration and misdirection of facts and followers. Indecision Trait #2: Accommodation These leaders above all else need to be liked. They interact with the employees, endeavor to be friends, and try please everyone so no one is angry or agitated. The Indecisive Leader uses the personal appeal of affiliation to reassure employees that there are no problems and that everyone
  4. 4. can work on this together. They usually are pleasant and supportive of others on their team and by not making a decision they will not offend or make a mistake. The accommodator does not want to make a decision, fearing it could be the wrong decision and people could become upset. Ultimately, the indecisiveness results from the leaders’ and personal need for approval and acceptance. “Indecisiveness and delays are the parents of failure” G. Canning 1827 (British Statesman and Prime Minister) Trait #3: Indecisive Procrastinator These leaders avoid making a decision or taking action. If the decision is not flawless or 100% accurate, they assume it must be implausible. The Indecisive Leaders determine they don’t have enough information to make a decision, or the information they have is unsound, that they need to collect more info or input from customers and employees, or that time is not a factor. The best way for a leader to shift to Indecision is to disregard time as a vital part of the decision-making equation. The indecision is disguised through postponing taking action right now. This leader probably was rewarded for not stepping on toes, not making hasty decisions, and being a glad hander at some point in the past. Transforming an Indecisive Leader There are some specific steps that can be taken to transform the Indecisive Leader to Decisive Leader. However, there is something crucial to remember here: while you are describing someone as indecisive, that same person may be doing the same about you. The less we know about someone, the more we are apt to describe that person’s behavior as “troubling.” Thus, we need to first do the following: · Assess the situation (business circumstance) · Try to think of why the person would be indecisive or decisive · Separate you and the person from the decision · Develop a plan to work with the person · Implement the plan · Assess the plan through implementation, is the Indecisive Leader is changing Indecisive Leaders waste a considerable amount of time and money, which affects people’s lives. If you encounter an Indecisive Leaders, and want to support that person to be a more productive, decisive leader, there are some steps that can be taken to ensure that the leader is able to produce the right decisive action. Understanding the Indecisive Leader:
  5. 5. · Has this person acted the same or differently in similar situations? · What is the person’s usual behavior? · Am I reacting out of proportion to the situation? · Are my responses excessive? · Is there a particular incident that triggered the indecisive behavior? · Will direct, open discussion help alleviate the indecision? · How can I help? Strategy to work with the Diversion tactic · Stay focused on the facts · Develop a plan to address the issues with benefits to the organization, employees, and customers · Focus on the competition and customer demands which will lead to changes that the organization needs to take Strategy to work with the Accommodator tactic · Ask questions to bring out underlying facts · Focus on next step actions · Let the leaders know their ideas are valued and others would appreciate knowing their thoughts and actions that will lead to key results · Discuss the working relationship and what people want from their leaders · Be ready to step in to help resolve the issues and address the problem through action Strategy to work with the Procrastinator tactic · Help the leaders make that first major decision so their brains begin to formulate what it is like to make a decision (support) · Get the issues out on the table · Present a step-by-step approach based on the situation and to support making of a decision and focus on potential results
  6. 6. · Listen for: the focus of their attention, evasion of taking action, and focus on successful outcomes Summary: You can support an Indecisive Leader to become decisive through your encouragement if that leader wants to grow as a leader. Do not give up on Indecisive Leaders: this may be part of their development in which you can play an important role. Rex Gatto Ph.D., BCC President Gatto Associates LLC. 412 344-2277 (Office) www.rexgatto.com rex@rexgatto.com

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