Procrastination – Why do leaders PROCRASTINATE?

Procrastination - Why do leaders procrastinate?


The temptation is to answer: ‘let me think about that and get back to you.’ But that wouldn’t be ideal. It’s certainly a question that’s asked often because hesitation can be very costly and have profound consequences for both leaders and businesses.


There is no time for delay in the new economic hegemony

In the current style of proactive and reactive leadership delaying important decisions can mean the boat sails and the long-term negative impact can be significant. After all, the ability to make crucial decisions as they are needed underlines a successful leadership strategy.


Why does procrastination afflict leaders?  

  • There’s no time to sift through the facts as if on an archeological dig

No one is asking a leader to make a snap judgement and put every aspect of the business at risk but on the other hand neither is their time to sift through the facts as if on an archeological dig. Often the key reasons behind procrastination is the inability to resolve and really see the key business decisions. When this happens, inertia, a clear vision, and an innovative business model are also unlikely.


Procrastination in leaders may start early in life. 

  • Delaying important and challenging tasks can be embedded from school days and lead to procrastination in later life

We often fail to realise this one-time habit has actually become our default. Self-knowledge is certainly a leader’s best friend. Failing that, asking a key and trusted colleague might well shine a light on procrastination tendencies. After all, deep frustration that builds into resentment can be engendered when colleagues know that whatever they ask for, suggest or need it will never be resolved quickly.

Other colleagues may interpret this kind of procrastination very differently. A leader might be feeling pressured but other team members whereas they might interpret it as arrogance or a failure to appreciate difficulties or empathise with needs.


There’s nothing wrong with considering the facts and taking time to step back and view an important decision with objectivity, but judging the amount of time taken is the key criterion. 

Take the famous Blockbuster/Netflix supremacy battle. This is an excellent example of what happens when you wait too long and fail to acknowledge the moment is ‘now’. Those in charge of Netflix understood the emerging market style driven by rapid technological developments. The method of delivery was changing. Who wanted to go out and pick up a DVD when it could be streamed straight into clients’ homes.

With tech moving so fast there wasn’t time to ponder. In fact, this factor is so critical that Blockbuster went from being valued in 2005 at about $8 billion to filing for bankruptcy. If a case study like this isn’t about the importance of seizing the day how much more dramatic an example do you need?  With that in mind consider these suggestions for sidestepping procrastination as a leader.


9 Ways to sidestep procrastination as a leader.

1.Get to know yourself.  Be self-aware and watch how you approach decision-making in all aspects of your life. Find patterns, look for signals and actively counteract any tendencies to procrastinate.

2. Eliminate the ego. Extracting emotion allows a more even-handed approach to decision-making.

3. Regulate goals and work out directional targets. This helps extract the emotion from decision-making.

4.  Consider the environment in which decisions are made. When leaders collaborate, seek assistance and value colleagues there’s less mistrust that leads to lesser feelings of fear and apprehension. These two emotional state alone can fuel the tendency towards procrastination.

5. Foster confidence by being well organized and researched. This prevents leaders being swayed by a leftfield comment, suggestion or observation and sending them scuttling back to the safety of their desk.

6. Be proactive and seek out answers, as well as being transparent all play a significant role in preventing procrastination.

7. Consider consequences of a potential decision. It may promote an understanding of larger issues or the bigger picture.

8. Maintain a clear head. As strange as it might seem, exercise, healthy diet, limiting alcohol intake and managing stress levels can actually make a leader far more decisive. Feeling below par can cause stress that promotes flight or fight or an inability to take the decisive step.

9. Keep innovation and change as integral drivers with any management strategy. By its very nature, this will inevitably buy valuable time.


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