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Charan’s framing of indecision because of lack of interaction is spot on because people typically do not communicate well to make decisions. Charan states “that instances of indecision share a family resemblance – a misfire in the personal interactions that are supposed to produce results” (Harvard Business Review 2013, pp. 58).
Communication is key in that it builds trust. Trust is crucial to fight inaction and indecision; without trust subordinates will not have buy-in on the task, project or mission and the project will likely fail or at least be quietly killed by suffocation due to lack of interest. As Charan states, “breaking a culture of indecision requires a leader who can engender intellectual honesty and trust in the connections between people (Harvard Business Review 2013, pp. 59).
A second reason why dialogue and interactions between people is so crucial to decision making is ensuring accountability. Without the habit pattern of routine, constructive dialogue built into the organizational structure and how employees, leaders and subordinates communicate, it becomes nearly impossible for a leader to hold his or her subordinates accountable for indecision.
If a leader cannot adequately communicate the vision of the company and build the trust required to further the organization with his or her people carrying out the work, then it is nearly impossible to hold people accountable during times of indecision. In the military, the phrase “you inspect what you expect” further improves on the idea that accountability can only occur with active engagement between leader and subordinate.
Talking further about honest interactions and accountability, Charan (Harvard Business Review et al., 2013) further describes feedback and follow through as a key piece to changing a culture of indecision. Follow through and feedback cannot exist without a framework for human interaction established as well as a means and will to hold individuals accountable. Without feedback, a leader cannot be adequately honest with his or her subordinates; without feedback, a leader cannot hold indecisive managers accountable because the loop of communication does not exist in the first place.
Indecision in an organization can be fixed with a strong leader who ultimately is a specialist in human interactions. He or she cannot be afraid of honest and frank dialogue, albeit dialogue not made personal or insensitive. A leader must ensure that honest conversations can be had, which helps to build trust and accountability and ensure the feedback loop continues to flow. To Charan’s point, a culture of indecisiveness is indeed a leadership issue as leaders typically set the tone for acceptable forms of human interaction within an organization.
Harvard Business Review, & Review, H. B. (2013). HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Making Smart Decisions (with featured article Before You Make That Big Decision by Daniel Kahneman, Dan Lovallo, and Olivier Sibony). Amsterdam, Netherlands: Reed Business Education.