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Avoiding Leadership Lemons

I was in desperate need of a second vehicle. Our family was sharing a car and the circumstances were causing ever-increasing time and relationship strain.  The pressure had reached a breaking point and I needed my own car NOW!  I did a brief search on the internet, and immediately zeroed in on a “great deal.”  The car met my criteria and most importantly, I could bring it home that same day.

Unable to get the car into an official mechanic without waiting a few more days, I opted for a quick once-over with a friend to identify any major issues and proceeded to buy the car.  All of the tension caused by our chaotic transportation issues instantly melted away. I was once again master of my own time management.

Sweet relief! 

I eventually decided to have a mechanic check my new car and install some minor accessories I wanted to make it my own.  Can you guess the end of this story?  My short-term relief at having my own ride quickly turned to long-term concern as potential engine problems were revealed.

Instead of living with the original pressure a little longer and taking the car to my trusted mechanic, I bought a vehicle with serious issues.  That was a painful lesson.  My hurry led to an unknowing, unwelcome invitation for a whole host of potential future problems.  The moral to my sad story: Haste Makes Mistakes.

Hasty decisions lead to low quality outcomes for leaders

The “hasty hire”:  You and your team are working overtime to cover the work that should be filled by a needed position in your organization.  Exhausted and desperate, you decide to skip the vetting process and quickly find someone who can at least cover the basics.  But…that warm body you hired has now become dead weight in your organization.  Imagine if you had endured the pressure just a little longer and found the best candidate.

The “hasty brush-off”:  Your schedule is completely booked when you hear about a conversation that has started rumors within your organization. It has the unfortunate potential to escalate quickly.  You decide to delegate managing the potentially volatile situation to the next available someone, sending them to de-escalate things without all the information or backup. BOOM! The problem has now blown up even more because the conversation wasn’t handled properly.  How many aftershocks might you have avoided if you’d taken the time to put everyone back on the same page?

Consider these 4 R’s in the midst of your next high pressure decision:

  1. Resist Immediate Relief – Look for ways to hold back temptation to decide another few hours, days or weeks.
  2. Reflect on alternatives – Make time on your own to journal some new ideas or out-of-the-box ways to solve your dilemma.
  3. Receive good advice – Contact at least one person you consider to be wise and seek their opinion.
  4. Reach for the trigger – When you feel like you’ve endured the waiting period and thought things through, pull the trigger. Waiting too long can have its own set of downfalls.

At Milestone, we’ve observed leaders worth following find a balance in their decision-making that consistently factors in necessary time, reflection and occasional counsel. Yet, they know that proceeding with caution and deliberation doesn’t mean dragging things out.

How do you make sure you’re not “buying a lemon?”


Written by: Erik Dees, Partner, Milestone Leadership

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