Procrastination! That’s easy to see in this picture.
We put off until a later time what we should be doing right now. We convince ourselves it will be fine, but of course, that’s rarely the case. In fact, it often gets worse in ways we never even imagined.
The same thing happens to us with “people problems” in everyday business, but it is harder to recognize. Supervisors, managers and leaders put off dealing with what really needs to be done now. Instead, we think somehow it will be easier or faster to deal with it another day. Or maybe, we hope the problem will magically go away.
We all know that putting off people problems has huge consequences. Why, then, is it so easy to procrastinate? Maybe we let other work squeeze out our real leadership work. Maybe we let the busy administrative activities–the paperwork, the inbox, the email, and the conference calls–get in the way of the real work of leadership. As leaders, our real work is the people work.
When we put off a small personnel problem, it only becomes a larger problem later. At first, somebody on the team is not performing. Leaders ignore an unacceptable behavior, a mistake, or another small problem. Pretty soon, that small problem grows, is magnified, and is joined with another problem. We get frustrated and wonder how things became so bad.
Procrastination eats up that “margin” we need to manage the issues that inevitably arise. Soon, just like the car with two flat tires, the entire team becomes paralyzed and can no longer perform. Having the flat tire repaired only takes a few minutes and a few dollars, but when we put off that task, a second flat tire completely strands us and costs us far more. When we are running on the edge all the time (or on that spare tire), we leave less room to do our jobs well. And later, problems become far worse.
Leaders address the small problems–especially the people problems–immediately, before they become larger problems and paralyze the entire system.
Leadership is about having the discipline to deal with people problems in the moment and the foresight to understand the consequences.
One of the highest callings of a leader is to do what is right and what is needed, not what is easy or convenient. People count on us leaders to address unacceptable behavior, mistakes, and performance problems, because they see it as a mark of our care.
What are you waiting for? What are the people problems you are facing that you should deal with head-on today? Deal with the people problems that you are facing now while they are still small. Taking affirmative steps to solve a problem in the beginning is always better than standing by while it festers and grows.
Doug Sterbenz is a corporate executive, national speaker, author and a leadership coach for individuals and organizational seeking to develop leaders.
Doug can be reached at Doug@PresentToWinLeaders.com