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When fear becomes the defining principle of a leader

Blair McPherson - former Director, Author and Blogger
The Pandemic has challenged political leaders and business leaders. For political leaders the big questions have been when to have a lockdown to save lives and when to end restrictions in order to save the economy. Which vaccine to use, Angela Merkel’s over cause approach or Boris Johnson’s often reckless act first think latter?
Even before the pandemic ratcheted up the pressure business leaders were talking about the need for organisations to be faster moving, quicker to adapt to changes in the market, in technology , in costumer expectations. Change is always on the agenda, those organisations that respond quickest gain an advantage. But making decisions quickly increases the risk of getting it wrong, not having all the information, not consulting widely enough, failing to identify obstacles, failing to make sufficient resources available , over stating the benefits, underestimating the cost.
A merger that fails to deliver the promised economies of scale , a major outsourcing that doesn’t deliver the predicted cost saving, the big investment in new technology that instead of being a leap forward turns out to be a white elephant. Big mistakes can be very expensive, they can also cost lives! ( cladding on the outside of tower blocks, cuts to child protection or mental health services ) is it any wonder some leaders become afraid of making the wrong decision.
Often it’s the experience leaders who council against taking short cuts or cutting corners because they have more insight into all the things that can go wrong. This can tip over into being risk averse, always wanting more information, delaying possibly avoiding making a decision, over thinking problems, becoming indecisive due to data over load, choosing to play safe.
Such leaders are frustrating to work for, they stifle innovation, they are indecisive , they let opportunities pass due to their over cautious approach , in a fast changing world they are failing to keep their organisation ahead. Sooner or latter they will be replaced by a risk taker.
This is the challenge of leadership too cautious and the organisation doesn’t progress and thrive but make risky not properly throughout decisions and the organisation can suffer a costly and dramatic reverse.

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