3 Excuses Leaders Make to Avoid Hard Decisions

Leaders have to make hard decisions, and the further you are in your leadership journey the more tough calls you have to make. As a leader, it’s important to know not only how to make tough calls, but when to make them.

All too often leaders push tough decisions down the road.  Hard decisions get more complicated the longer they’re deferred, and delays can cause more damage than whatever fallout the leader was trying to avoid.

As a leader, you can learn to recognize when you are putting off making a decision because it seems unpleasant. Here are three of the most common excuses, and their consequences:

  1. “I’m being considerate of others.” If leader is afraid of disappointing their team they might delay a tough decision. This only puts off the inevitable emotional fall-out, and gives team members less time to process their disappointment.
  2. “I’m committed to quality and accuracy.” If a leader is uncomfortable with uncertainty they may delay action under the guise of gathering more data. This behavior sends the signal that “looking right” is more important than “doing right”.
  3. “I want to be seen as fair.” Instead of recognizing high performers and coaching low performers, leaders may fall back on treating every member of their team in the exact same way. This type of behavior can undermine performance and ultimately cause friction down the line.

As a leader, how you make hard calls shapes the culture of your team, and the culture of your organization. These excuses teach team members that self-protection and self-interest are legitimate motivations for making difficult choices. Whatever temporary pain you might incur from making a tough call should pale in comparison to building a culture of thoughtful, positive decision-making.

(Adapted from Harvard Business Review)

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears” – Nelson Mandela