Inaction vs. Patience

Kevin, over at The Human Bent, has a great post today about making decisions. (Kevin, I aplogize for hijacking your title.)

It’s an interesting (and irritating) perception problem. Good leaders try to show patience, and ensure that the timing of a decision is correct. Maybe they are waiting for a critical piece of information. Or they are waiting until others are more receptive to the decision. Unfortunately, their patience is sometimes viewed as indecision.

Sometimes, leaders do suffer from “analysis paralysis”. But not always.

In The Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership, Stephen Sample recommends that leaders ask when a decision needs to be made, and then utilize the maximum amount of time to weigh and make the decision. Don’t rush, but don’t be too late either.

In the case of a deliberate, purposeful delay, I think the best thing that we can do as leaders is to communicate why we are delaying a decision.

In fact, let me say that again. Leaders need to communicate what they’re doing.

This “perception” dilemma reminds me of an experience at work several years ago. I was trying to empower the nine people that worked for me, and push more decision-making onto them. The early result, however, was that I was perceived as indecisive. This wasn’t the case at all. I was trying to build their ownership for their work. As opposed to me deciding everything, and the nine of them being trained monkeys who did my bidding… I would want to be empowered, so I figured that they would too.

Thanks for the great insight Kevin!

(photo courtesy of edwardleger)


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