One of the challenges that a lot of leaders have is learning to deal with conflict and also being decisive. This can come from a variety of areas such as the need to keep everyone happy, a fear of conflict, the fear of making a decision, financial security issues or the fear of getting everything perfect before a decision is made.
In terms of the Human Synergistics circumplex 12 styles, I feel that avoidance is the most challenging style to coach people from where they are at towards the blue constructive styles. Because it is the closest style to the security needs at the bottom of the circumplex, it means it is strongly ingrained. There are real fears driving it and it requires a lot of work to move from avoidance to the opposite style of self-actualising.
To start the change, there is a need to explain the impact on others of this style. The impact of avoidance on a team or organisation from leaders is stifling. Nothing frustrates team members more than a leader that cannot make a decision. It is the opposite of leadership and slows down progress, the building of trust and the ability to empower people to get on with the job.
It is also important to talk through the impact on the person who is struggling to overcome this style. When avoidance is evident in their leadership style, it can come from the need for external validation such as everything needs to be perfect before I make a decision or the need to please everyone before we make a decision. Other factors could be worrying about the decision or all the factors associated with the outcome of the decision both task and people related.
Once the impact is truly understood both on the person and the people they work with, we can then start to detonate the impact. Good planning leads to the ability to make decisions. Understanding how to delegate effectively so others can step up. Ensuring that you don’t be hard on yourself and others around making mistakes and embracing that by making more decisions, you will inevitably make more mistakes. The key is to fail fast and view failure as feedback.
Some tips to move from avoidance is to make sure goals and targets are clear to allow others to be empowered to get on with the job. Being crystal clear on expectations with staff so that they can make decisions themselves is also important to avoidance as the link stems from the lack of clarity provided in some instances around what needs to be achieved. Get good also at asking questions. They take your staff through their own decision making journey rather than it resting with you solely.
Don’t underestimate the impact of avoidance. To truly gauge this, ask your staff what frustrates them the most from a leader. If not making a decision does not feature in the top five, I would be staggered. Decisiveness in decision making is a skill I admire greatly in effective leaders. There should be more of it.
To conclude, I got a great piece of advice from a mentor of mine many years ago which was ” you can be two types as a leader Kym. One leader makes ten decisions during the week and they are perfect. The second leader makes one hundred decisions. Eighty five were right, ten were line ball and five were plain wrong.” The question to me was which one would I prefer to work under?
The answer is a no brainer and so is the reason for avoidance being a time bomb. Decisions are there to be made. Avoiding them causes frustration which will go off with it just being a matter of time. Combat avoidance by being decisive.