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Why you can’t delay action

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

One thing we learned last month from former University of Missouri president Tim Wolfe is that inaction is often worse than making a bad decision.

The president resigned after being accused by students of being indifferent to racial hostility at the school.

While that is un­­proven, he was definitely guilty of being too slow to react to the controversy.

You can avoid that same mistake by remembering that:

  • You won’t always have all the facts. Sometimes you can hold off making a decision while you gather more information or consider your options. However, circumstances can quickly deteriorate, as they did at UM, if you do nothing. Be prepared to take decisive action during crises.
  • No response is worse than the wrong one. Wolf essentially stayed silent, even when a group of protestors blocked his car and others went on a hunger strike. In fact, he didn’t issue an apology until several football players and their coach refused to play unless he resigned. That was a threat the school had to take seriously given the financial loss of canceling a big game. Unfortunately, the apology was too little, too late, and the damage was already done.
  • Most decisions can be changed. If you fail to act, it is often because you’re worried about making the wrong decision. However, few decisions are permanent. Even if you totally botch it, you gain an opportunity to apologize, admit you were wrong, spark a discussion and begin resolving the issue.

— Adapted from “5 Reasons the Best Leaders Never Procrastinate,” Minda Zetlin, Inc., www.inc.com.

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