What Are You Waiting For?

A scenario I’ve seen several times is one where a person in a leadership position, after deciding and announcing they will be switching jobs, finally starts acting on things they’ve been procrastinating for months and sometimes even years. As if a huge weight has been lifted off their shoulders, they provide feedback, lay out plans, change the structure (or at least advise their replacement on what should be done with great certainty).

Similarly, the current pandemic is triggering some leaders into making changes that should have been done long ago. These include letting under-performers go, setting up infrastructure for working effectively remotely, considering hiring remote workers, or manage meetings and processes in a more productive manner. All of these might make more sense due to the global crisis. However, as with the example of people phasing-out, there was no reason to wait with those.

Leadership Procrastination is a special kind of procrastination, where you might be suffering decision fatigue, fearfulness, or anything else that’s putting you in a default mode of not taking action unless such action has become a must. Not rushing into decisions and waiting until you have more information can make sense.

Nevertheless, leaders need to lead. Stagnation, analysis paralysis, and procrastination rarely result in success or growth. What are you waiting for? When it comes to making a decision, and you find yourself meticulously cultivating a growing list on things on your plate to decide, realize that you’re likely suffering from Leadership Procrastination.

To break the cycle, stop thinking too hard:

  • Realize that not making a decision is a decision. Is it the best one you could make?
  • Consider, would the organization have been better off had you made a decision earlier? Do it now.
  • If you’re keeping feedback to yourself, speak up.
  • An exercise I sometimes do with clients: Imagine what your replacement would do if you were to take a sudden leave of absence. What would someone without all the baggage do?