It was a good decision: a decision based on facts, one made with key audiences in mind, informed by best practices.
Until it wasn’t, and the CEO went from being viewed as a sound, competent leader, to one whose commitment and competency were suddenly thrown into question.
That same scenario played out three different times with three different senior leaders over the course of four days, and I had a front row seat for each. After sleeping on their decisions, each suffered from what Nick Tasler, writing in Harvard Business Review, calls ‘planner’s remorse’. Overthinking and retrenching, each one started heading in the opposite direction, quickly confounding their teams, concerning their partners, and arguably pointing their organizations the wrong way.
Yet what’s often overlooked in these situations are the long-lasting effects on employees, whose confidence in their leaders suffer a blow following reversals. A single instance may not make for a problem, but repeated recalculation using the same data has a cumulative, damaging effect on trust and retention. A 2012 Deloitte report revealed that among employees who plan to leave an organization, 27% trust their corporate leadership, compared to almost 62% of those who plan to stay.
Reconsidering a path when presented with new information is the mark of a good leader. Next morning waffling is a skill for short order cooks at the local breakfast joint. Choose wisely.
By Mike McDougall
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