There is something unpleasant that you are putting off. In reality, you need to do something right now. You are thinking that time might take care of the problem. You are thinking that he, she, or it (as the case may be) will magically be transformed. You are procrastinating. You hope that ignoring the situation will simply make it go away.
Stop bullshitting yourself.
Time is not your friend, and a good leader knows it. Sure, there are times when you need to let something settle down, let tempers cool, let more information come in, or allow for a strategic opportunity to offer itself. I am not talking about any of these situations. I am talking about that thing you know you need to do now and yet keep putting off until later. Most of the time these situations have to do with people issues.
Leadership demands honest assessment of a situation and prompt action. Lots of people will tell you that is how they lead, but they will be lying through their teeth. The truth is that most people do not want to take actions resulting in personal discomfort or conflict. Most managers hold the completely illogical position with respect to people issues that “they will get better.” Whatever the problem is, it will not get better on its own. Either you are actively engaged in fixing the problem or it is getting worse. No matter how much you want to ignore it, the consequences will get worse by the day. Classic examples of waiting for change that will never come include:
- The employee you know you need to discipline or fire but never do
- The leader or supervisor under you who is really not ready, capable, or competent (besides, with whom would you replace this person, anyway?)
- The family member, friend, cousin, or long-term employee about whom you think you “can’t” do anything
- The terminally late employee (but, hey, it’s just a few minutes)
- The great producer who is a cancer in the team
- The employee you would not trust to walk your dog but whom you trust with your clients
Leadership demands brutally honest assessment and immediate action. Don’t allow things to accumulate. You cannot lead and manage by looking over your shoulder. If you let things stack up, you can find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of actions that need to be taken—not to mention the stress and mental anguish that goes along with the territory.
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They say that time heals all, but it sure does not solve all. Remember, the more often problems get delayed the more backlog of bullshit, politics, discomfort and stress emerge in the workplace. Encourage all your leadership team to deal with it now. Pull off the Band-Aid and move on.