Being or experiencing indecisiveness can both be both a barrier to progress, but also an indicator of bigger problems in a given organization.
Characteristics of those that are indecisive tend to be:
1. Poor clarity of what is important or what is valued.
2. Skill deficits with respect to the position that the person is in.
3. Simply “not knowing” what course to pursue because of anxiety or a lack of assertiveness, or not having enough experience to know what to do.
4. A leader knowing what they need to do, but imposing a self-defined barrier because of the thoughts of what really needs to be done, but wishing to avoid those things, or steps in the execution for some secondary gain.
Although it is easy to confuse procrastination with indecisiveness, the two are really different behaviors, but they can collude to impact an organization. An indecisive leader can become a procrastinator if action continues to be delayed. The difference between the two is really between a situation in the moment (indecisive inaction), and the prolonged behavioral patterns of someone who simply cannot (or will not) do anything (procrastinator) over a long period of time. Procrastinators purposively decide to under-function. An indecisive leader knows they need to do something, but has no courage to take steps toward action.
Indecisiveness can become a restraining force on the organization. The worse scenario is when a leader as in #4 knows what to do, but holds off deciding a course because of what is to be avoided. This can have longer term detrimental effects on a firm that their very survival is dependent on concise decision making.
The solution to avoiding indecisiveness can be the following:
1. Knowing what is important, and operating from clear and concise information and values.
2. Getting the information needed in an efficient manner – if you don’t know what to do. Sometimes we don’t know, what we don’t know.
3. Seeking counsel for problems. Developing an actual plan of execution. Then, doing that plan.
4. Eliminating distractions. Keep the key decision in the front row. Know what, where, when and how. Decrease the level of emotion, and stick to the value of one course over another.
5. Face the music. Develop a reason for a decision, that is ethical and has meaning. Don’t avoid. Learn to accept certain things that are outside our direct control to change.
6. Doing nothing can sometimes be a cop out. Sometimes doing something is that you do nothing, but at least you have taken the responsibility to take some step forward.
7. Taking action, at least some action, is sometimes enough to help you move forward. This can be a preliminary step in the right direction.
Indecisiveness can be addressed, if honestly acknowledged and not avoided. How has indecisiveness been evident in your personal or organizational life?How well did you work though it, and what needed to be different in your response?