One common shortcoming of ineffective leaders is that they have an over abundance of patience. They are such good planners that the planning never stops. It’s not procrastination either. They truly plan and plan and plan. 

They want the perfect plan. Literally EVERYTHING must be perfect. There can be absolutely no unknowns. They are paralyzed until they are 100% confident in their plan. 

Waiting forever is one of the five great weaknesses of ineffective leaders.

For these kind of leaders the reality is that their plan will never be perfect. There will always be at least some unknowns. Still, these ineffective leaders hesitate to act.

Authentic Leaders know there may never be a perfect time. They move forward anyway knowing full well things may go wrong. They stand ready to solve whatever problems they and their organization may face along the way. Their plans frequently include “fallback” positions that buy them time to make adjustments to the plan. Their plan always includes a date when the plan will be implemented. It’s often, ready or not here we go, but they absolutely go. They know that they are as ready as they can be and if they wait until they are 100% ready they may be waiting forever. Literally forever. 

Authentic Leaders know that every attempt at progress has some level of risk associated with it. They also know that the biggest risk they can take is to do nothing. They measure the pluses and minuses of each risk they take. They consider the consequences of the consequences of their possible courses of actions. And then they act! Even if the action they take is to do nothing it’s a conscious decision. They never actually wait, they merely pause. And yes, there is a big difference between the two. 

Authentic Leaders are aware of how fast a window of opportunity can close. Unlike ineffective leaders they won’t wait, or pause, past the time that window closes. They are comfortable dealing with and meeting deadlines. Any leader can see an opportunity, Authentic Leaders seize them. 

Authentic Leaders know that progress, growth and success require action. They, and their teams pass ineffective, over waiting, leaders and their teams every day. Don’t wait one second longer than you must. If you do it’s likely the only way your competition will even know you exist is by looking in their rear view mirror.

2 thoughts on “Waiting…Forever

  1. This reminds me of Union General George McClellan in the U.S. Civil War. He was very good at training, building, and planning. He couldn’t execute, as he was always waiting for perfect conditions. (I’ve also heard some speculation that he assumed the war wouldn’t last, and he would just sit on his hands until it was over). Lincoln had to replace him with Ulysses S. Grant. I think the lesson for me is that each person in my command has certain strengths, in various areas, but rarely in all areas. I must recognize that the officer who is good at planning, or training, etc, may not be the person best suited for fireground command. I need someone who can execute a plan under imperfect conditions.

    I need to recognize weaknesses in myself as well. I can be detail oriented if needed, but I loathe it. I’m a big picture person. I have detail oriented people who thrive in the minutiae. I delegate to them. I’m happy to make the decisions they present to me. (In most cases they present to me a recommended course of action with alternatives. I usually just need to approve).

    1. Interesting that the post would remind you of General George McClellan. He was indeed the inspiration for the post. Lincoln was a doer, McClellan must have drove him nuts. McClellan went on to a full life of service but he never overcame his lack of initiative. I wonder what he full potential would have been if he had.

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