3 Problems That Every Leader Must Address

By Jeff Boss | for Forbes.com


Three challenges continually arise when it comes to making an impact and subsequently driving results. They are:

Decision making

Nothing gets accomplished without the green light to do so, but too often there’s an aversion to risk when it comes time to decide, is attributable to three things:

1. The absence of a clear decision making process. Making a decision is one thing. Having a process for doing so is another as it reduces the tendency of cognitive bias, standardizes decision making criteria for when decision should be escalated to the next level. In other words, know what decisions you’re accountable and responsible for. If you’re unsure, answer this question: How many decisions did you make yesterday that could’ve been made by somebody one or two levels below you? If the answer is one or more, then how does that fit your definition of productivity?

2. The fear of accountability or the absence of clear outcomes play into this, but at the same time, the moons will never align perfectly.

3. FOMO. This is an acronym for Fear Of Missing Out, or the phenomenon of waiting for “perfect” to occur. The “perfect” circumstance in which a decision can prosper will never come. It just won’t. There are too much data and information moving faster than ever before, and if we wait for more data . Making a decision at least provides momentum and guidance for which direction to move. Remember also that not making a decision, is still a decision.


The intrinsic human need to seek achievement, to be recognized, and to feel valued exist within all of us to varying degrees. But that’s not news. What is newsworthy is the fact that complacency leads to disengagement and with employee engagement having increased a whopping 0.5% (from 31.5 to 32%) from 2014 to 2015 (Gallup), complacency is a serious challenge for companies today.

What does complacency look like? Complacency takes many forms, but it looks a lot like:

1. A loss of passion.

2. Having an unclear purpose.

3. Wearing the same pair of “grumpy pants” all day, every day.

4. A lack of desire to professionally develop.

The list goes on (well, it certainly could). The good news is, complacency is preventable, but doing so requires some serious questioning to dig down deep and unearth that which has allowed complacency to transpire, such as:

– Why am I complacent? What am I missing? What would my ideal work look like? (this is assuming you’re self-aware enough to know that complacency has set in)

– What excites you about your job? If the answer is “nothing,” then why do you do it? The typical “because I need to pay the bills” answer doesn’t suffice because there are plenty of other jobs out there. Why do you dowhat you do?


There are two types of communication–verbal and non-verbal–that we use to communicate with each other (person A to person B) and amongst each other (person A to persons B, C, D..). The good news is, communication is a learned skill; the bad news is, not everybody has received the learning curriculum. If you’re wondering if your words are even landing with people, the resourceful manageroffers the below fun facts that indicate why your words may pass through people like a bowl of fiber :

– The average US adult attention span decreased from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8.25 seconds in 2013. Congratulations, this is less than the nine second attention span of a goldfish.

– Listening is a learned skill, but not enough schools teach it. Only 5% of US colleges offer courses on listening. Business journal articles are even worse, offering a mere 1.5% of articles on listening.

– Too many people playing the blame game. Approximately 96% of executives say they are good listeners, while 81% say other executives don’t listen.

Why am I harping on listening so much? Because it feeds the other two challenges of complacency and decision making. The absence of attentive ears causes roughly 46% of employees to quit (who likes being ignored?) and attribute to 60% of business errors. (are your ears open now?)

If you don’t believe this statistic, try playing the kindergarten game of telephone using the same modes of communication you already do. So, make up a phrase—something just as boring as what’s normally communicated—and share it with someone else. Ask them to do the same. Don’t tell them what you’re doing or who you’re going to follow up with, just consider it another communicative task. At the end of the day, track the message by revisiting the person you initially communicated with and ask him/her who the next person was that they sent it to, and so on. Repeat until you get about 10 layers deep. Two things you’re looking for are:

1. Was the message sent the message received?

2. Did people know who they communicated with and what their responses were?

If the test was successful, then congratulations! You are in the minority. If it was unsuccessful, just imagine the cost associated with this when the consequences are greater.

What are your workplace challenges?

Jeff is an executive coach, author of Navigating Chaos: How To Find Certainty in Uncertain Situations and Managing The Mental Game, and former Navy SEAL.


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