Leadership And “I’m Waiting For…”

The world is getting faster. We live at speed like never before and especially in business you need to move fast if you want to stay competitive. I won’t talk today about the inherently stressful situations this bring but I will rather focus on what mindset you need to adopt if you want to keep up with the best.

Sense of ownership and urgency

Instant is the key word of today. Instant communication by mobile phones, instant information available through internet, instant coffee in your kitchen and instant escalation of any problem your business faces. You know what’s going on every single second and the environment demands you respond.

Having a sense of ownership means that you accept responsibility and accountability for delivery. It might be you commit with your team to deliver the best customer experience, it might be you committed to produce a great product, it might be you committed to roll out a new initiative. Regardless the situation having sense of ownership means that not only you feel accountable for success and combined with sense of urgency it means you also act instantly.

If you want to grow your business, grow your team, or grow yourself you need to really feel responsible and you need to be willing to act now. Keep in mind that the world is moving forward and if you don’t move you will be left behind. I’m not promoting here that you need to be online 24×7, in fact I personally spend significant portion of my time offline and unreachable but I always make sure that someone else would be able to step in and understand the importance of moving things forward.

Data and consensus building

It is so easy to access data today. In fact, it is too easy. You might be so overwhelmed by data that you need more of them to make sense of those you’ve already got. And what if you have a team? Each of them has access to the same amount of data and may interpret them differently. And you want to be a democratic leader who empowers others so you want them to make decisions or even better build a consensus.

Consensus building is a great thing as long as all the people share all the data so they have the same view of the world, are able to constructively discuss and then decide instantly with everyone committing to the outcome. If that is not the case then attempts for consensus usually lead to one deadly sentence…

I’m waiting for…

This is the one sentence that shows you or your team don’t have the sense of ownership and sense of urgency. These words may sound reasonable at times but it promotes culture of passivity, feeling of us against them, and leads to lost momentum, lost drive and lost opportunities.

“I’m waiting for Bob to deliver his part,” well go and help him work on it!

“I’m waiting for approval from my boss’s boss,” well get the preliminary work done so you can move fast once approved!

“I’m waiting for more data to make a decision,” paralysis by analysis, get the necessary minimum of data and just decide!

“I’m waiting for the results of last year’s employee survey before I do anything,” so you really have no idea what is the most likely outcome to get at least some work on the way?

“I’m waiting for summer to start my exercise regimen,” oh, I guess because it is impossible to exercise during winter?

Most of us are using these dangerous words as an excuse for not being willing to commit and do what it takes. And don’t even get me started on “but it is not my job!” If you have sense of ownership you move things along regardless whether it is your job or not and regardless whether you have the formal authority to do so.

Bias for action

The top achievers have bias for action. Instead of waiting for something to happen or forever debating what needs to be done they just go and do it. That is the strategy you should follow if you want to be wildly successful. Will you always make the right choice? Of course not. You will make your share of mistakes, get your share of beating but that is all fine because you also know that you “won’t be waiting for” someone else to course correct you when needed. You move, you move fast, and when you realize you are not moving in the right direction you don’t stop but just change where you are heading and continue at full speed.


What is your approach to decision making? Are you biased towards action or prefer to wait and see how things work out before you get involved? What situations you experienced where waiting hurt the outcome?

Photo: © Arpad Nagy-Bagoly / Dollar Photo Club

Categories: Leadership, Performance

Tags: , ,

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