Have you ever been frustrated waiting for a decision from your boss? Once in a while, it’s OK right? Everyone gets annoyingly behind now and then. It’s pretty much impossible to stay on top of everything all the time. We all know that. But when your boss’s indecisiveness is a pattern, it’s a completely different story. The problem is that few indecisive leaders are aware of the cascading negative impact they have on their team. If they did, they’d surely change their ways…
Valley of the Dilly Dallies
Few things are as paralyzing and de-motivating to a team than a chronically indecisive boss. Eleventh hour decisions or last minute major changes or reversals trigger a flurry of activity that ricochets across every level of the business as people scramble to implement the modifications. Over time good people feel disrespected, get burned out or leave out of frustration. Most people want to do good work. Many often want to do exemplary work. But a boss who always leaves things to the last minute prevents this from happening. To make matters worse, it is often individual teammates that take any nasty blow back, and not, unfortunately, their leader.
Few employees will risk explaining to a client, customer or primary stakeholder that the real reasons for the lateness or incompleteness of the deliverables was due to their boss. Who could blame them? The resultant brown splatter from the proverbial fan would likely hit them too. No one ends up looking good when the head of the team is repeatedly exposed for their habitual incompetence in this way. Unless the whistle blower plans on making a hasty exit to a far away country, this type of situation is best kept in-house.
Word up: Exercise Caution
What I’m further amazed with is that an insidious double standard is often at play. Few dithering leaders would allow the very same behavior from their direct reports. No, no. There’d be notations on performance reviews and improvements would be expected. But for many a decision challenged boss, accountability only works one way. Some are even expert at making themselves appear in the opposite light to their own superiors. They skillfully deflect any negative feedback as being due to someone or something else and likewise, any successes are accepted as being due, in large part, to their own brilliant efforts. Talk about crazy making.
Killing You Softly
Innovators and visionaries suffer unduly under this type of a boss. Many bosses who dilly-dally on decisions do so because they don’t like sticking their necks out. They fear appearing different to their colleagues and don’t want to rock the boat with any new fangled ideas. This is often the type of person that has to wait and see what everyone else around the broader table thinks before making their ‘safe’ move. Meanwhile their organization’s creative talent dies a death of a thousand cuts and slowly languishes in the back forty…or they leave. And who could blame them?
If you are working for this kind of a person, you already know how tough it is. Unless there is a safe and effective channel for you to address your boss’s poor behavior and/or your boss is a decent person who is open to feedback and self improvement, your best option might be to walk. Similarly, if you think that one of your leaders is a decision making ditherer, get them help or set them free. Your company, clients and employees will all be the better for it.
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