When it matters most, are you able to make effective decisions or do you hesitate and find reasons to delay them? Many leaders are guilty of the latter, the underlying cause of which is procrastination — something that stands in the way of proactive leadership and should be dealt with to ensure you and your organization does not suffer from its rippling negative effects.
Being able to make the right decisions at the right time is a crucial part of leadership. Too often, however, lack of a proactive attitude gets in the way, causing not only decisions getting delayed but leaders failing to effectively resolve key business challenges. Ultimately, a lack of proactive leadership can have profound effects on an organization, where innovation hardly takes place, clear visions are difficult to find, and inertia becomes a part of the organizational DNA.
Lurking behind a lack of proactive leadership is procrastination, according to an article by David De Cremer, published in the European Business Review. Building on his book, The Proactive Leader: How To Overcome Procrastination And Be A Bold Decision Maker, De Cremer examines the process of procrastination in order to understand why proactive leadership is often put on hold.
He describes procrastination as a leader’s tendency to delay making important decisions while executing the less important ones. However, most leaders are biased in the ways that they evaluate themselves, and thus do not perceive themselves as suffering from a lack of proactive attitude. These leaders have an increased tendency to hesitate and procrastinate. In his research among Chinese executives, De Cremer found that team leaders evaluated themselves as more proactive than both their subordinates and supervisors perceived them to really be.
There are two underlying causes of procrastination that he highlights:
Procrastinating leaders can negatively influence all levels of an organization and install status-quo thinking among everyone involved, and so it is crucial for companies and future leaders to focus on ways to avoid these bad habits.
De Cremer concludes that leaders must develop confident and proactive strategies that will enable them to make the right decisions. Subsequently, procrastination will be less likely to undermine the development of the company towards a sustainable and competitive future.
These strategies should encounter both forces from within and outside themselves, and in particular they should encompass the following:
On the Challenge of Pro-Active Leadership and the Danger of Procrastination. David De Cremer. European Business Review (November 2013).
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