5 Risks for Flip Flop leaders
We've all worked for one in the past I'm sure. The organizational leader that flip flops on major decisions and direction constantly. Flip Flop leaders tend to be more visionary and tend to oversee smaller organizations. One reason for this is because their leadership capacity can only handle so much. On one hand a flip flop leader seems to have his pulse on the situations that is demanding his or her leadership, but the reality is their indecisiveness is creating another kind of culture.
In fairness, there are times when going back on a decision is helpful. For this article I will list 5 risks associated with flip flop leaders and 5 reasons a leader should change a decision.
5 Risks for Flip Flop leadership:
1. It Kills Morale: For those working in an organization and trying to execute a vision, flip flop leadership brings the organization morale down. Workers begin to second guess if their execution made the leader change his mind. Thus causing the workers to feel like their work doesn't matter.
2. Uncertainty that you are not heading in the right direction: When you flip flop in your decision making, the share holders and team sense that you don't really know what you're doing as a leader.
3. Your team stops believing in you: This is critical, everyone wants to follow a leader whom they believe in. When the credibility of a leader is compromised, your team will start working on their own and alignment suffers, synergy is lost.
4. Team production is stalled: Production is stalled because the team doesn't know if it wants to exert the necessary energies it takes to fulfill the new vision in fear that the vision will change again and work will be for nothing. The by-product of flip flop leadership is inconsistency in performance or product.
5. Confusion: Confusion takes place on multiple levels, from the team, to the customer, to the share holders. The mixed message leaves people not trusting the leader.
Now, you're reading this and thinking, this seems very negative, is there a chance that flip flopping can be necessary? Yes. I'll explain in this next set on why it may be necessary to flip flop on a decision.
When Flip Flopping Works:
1. When the decision moves you from your mission: I've spoken a lot about missional drift or missional atrophy before. Sometimes a change of policy is necessary to re-align the organization back to its own mission. Past policies were inconsistent to where the organization said it was going to move, thus things had to change.
2. When past policies are ethnically corrupt: Flip flopping may be necessary in order to right wrongs from the past. Perhaps policies were discriminatory in nature or did not communicate grace. Those decisions have to be addressed.
3. When data supports a change: Leading change is never easy, and often leaders react to situations rather than let the analytical data support the reason things change. Leading from your "gut" is a flawed approach, especially if you don't give ample time to see if the measures you put in place are effective or not. Allow the assistance of data, and your team's field experience help support a change in direction.
4. To let your team know you are listening: Sometimes changing a decision or policy is important because the team surrounding you is vocalizing the need for change. In an effort to boost morale, the leader will change something in order to gain trust for his team. This is important, as long as their is a justifiable reason for the reversal. Obviously a leader can't appease everyone, nor should he try but he must be willing to let his team know that he is listening.
5. When you change, change the tactics not the intent: Sometimes marketing strategies will fail and the tactic of marketing must change. Think about how it has changes overtime. From voice to video, from bill boards to social media platforms, from commercials to consumer testimonials. The tactics change often but the intent of getting the message out hasn't changed.
Consider your own leadership style. Are there things you need to be more direct with in leading or are there things you need to flip flop on?