The other week I was reading the BBC news website and I read an article by Lucy Kellaway of the FT. The article was titled “The Seven Deadly Sins CEO’s won’t admit” and it highlighted the 7 traits that seem to define a CEO. They were
- Control freaks
Bad at listening
Afraid of conflict
No good at small talk
Now these are probably not a surprise to most people that have worked closely with any CEO but I had never seen these written down before and I was perhaps a little surprised that these traits were across the board. Lucy isn’t saying that all CEO’s have all of these characteristics just that they usually all have some of them. So I started to think about which one was worse and which ones I had seen at some point. I have blogged before about leaders who bully and that does figure high on my list of attributes best done without, but perhaps the one I feel can cause most corporate crisis is ‘dithering’.
Lack of decisions can lead to huge delays in projects, sometimes even causing failure, but obviously it is never their fault. It is often said that no decision is worse than the wrong decision and that can sometimes be true, but for me there is another situation that is worse. Worse than no decision and worse than the wrong decision, and that is continual changing of the decision!
Have you ever worked on a task or project where you got fired up and really enthusiastic only to have that energy drain away in an instant when the boss tells you it’s all off, we’ve changed our mind/plan/direction or whatever. The worse comes when now halfway down plan B you get the message, STOP, plan A is back on now jump to it!
This constant on off on off approach depletes energy and enthusiasm faster then no decision. At least with no decision people can spin their wheels, or plan for what should be done even it isn’t being done, they can talk about it, bitch and moan but at least they have a channel to vent.
Similarly with the wrong decision they can get behind it and march on regardless while hoping for the best, but the changing of the decision, the swapping, the constant flip flopping, well that will kill morale in an instant.
To see Lucy’s full article in the FT the click here