Connecting & Building
Welcome to New Life's Building Church Leaders page.
Mission Statement . . . equipping, resourcing and building healthy leaders, people, & community . . .
Too many leaders fail to lead because they simply fail to decide.By the time they make a decision, if they make one at all, opportunities have passed, constituents are frustrated, and confidence is eroded. So why are some leaders so hesitant to make timely decisions? I talked to a number of leaders and they offered me these eight reasons.
1. They overanalyze the situation. As a result, analysis paralysis takes over. The leader tries to examine the potential outcome from every angle. I recently read a 10-year old strategic plan that was over 200 pages long. I could not find one strategy that became a reality. The leader spent a lot of time studying and writing, but he was unable to pull the trigger on any major decision.
2. They get too comfortable. Decision making typically means that things are not going to be the way they always have been. A number of leaders don’t like change. They don’t like being pulled from their comfort zones, so they erroneously rationalize that no decision will result in no change. You often hear these leaders lamenting for the ways things used to be.
3. They lack confidence. I recently spoke to a leader who shared a story about one of his direct reports. The subordinate is a gifted man with a great level of intellect. He intellectually knows what decision to make, but he lacks the confidence to make the decision. He starts second-guessing himself even before he has made a decision. Once he makes a decision, he is in misery anticipating a negative outcome.
4. They think it’s already too late. One leader lamented that he did not make the decision in his forties to do graduate study. He thought it was too late in life to take on such a work. Now that he’s in his fifties, he will not decide to go to graduate school because it’s even later. He’ll likely lament this decision in a few years. I had a student study under me who began his doctorate in his eighties. He wanted to be better prepared for his next phase of life.
5. They came from families that were risk averse. On many occasions the leaders told me that poor decision makers often come from families that discourage decision making. Perhaps parents instilled in their children that they couldn’t and shouldn’t make decisions on their own. So when they were placed in a position of authority where they had to make a unilateral decision, they were unable to do so.
6. They are lazy. When a leader makes a significant decision, he or she typically creates more work. The lazy leader finds it more convenient and palatable to forego a decision because he or she can forego work. Opportunities typically do not meet lazy people.
7. They are in over their head. Leaders often fail to decide because they don’t have the ability to know which direction to go. To use the Jim Collins’ metaphor, they are in the wrong seat on the bus. Many of these leaders are fearful of admitting their inabilities and inadequacies because they are prideful and fearful. They end up hurting themselves and the organization.
8. They work for leaders who won't let them make decisions. They are stifled in their leadership because they work for leaders who are micromanagers or overbearing persons. They thus lack the freedom to decide.