There are three managerial styles that go around and around and can’t close the discussion and bite the bullet, i.e., TAKE a decision.

Type (A), type (I) and type (E).*

Type (A), the bureaucratic style, works from a starting point of fear, fear of making a mistake. Fear of taking risk. Wanting to be perfectly sure. So, he or she will ask for more information. And more information. That is not too difficult to do because whatever information we get, yields a need for new information. It can be endless if one is inclined to make it endless.

Type (I) wants harmony. Agreement. Consensus. And will go around and around trying to get that consensus or defer the decision to a subcommittee to “study” the subject more. Type (I)s have a different fear. A fear of being rejected, that people will be unhappy, that they will be criticized.

Type (E), the Arsonist who changes his or her mind all the time, appear to be making, taking, a position with fervor. They are enthusiastic and passionate so it appears they have made, taken a decision, finalized. But wait few hours or few days and note how they come with new ideas, new priorities, and change what they have “decided’, few hours or days before. And now they are as enthusiastic and confident in this new or changed decision as they were with the previous although the decisions might be totally different from each other.

Arsonists are rarely right but never in doubt. They might say: “it is too late for you to disagree with me, I already changed my mind.” Working with them is like chasing a drop of mercury. They do not take a stand and just stand there. They move.

What to do?

That is where a complementary team is necessary. The (P) style will push to finalize. To get a decision even if it is the wrong one. Just to get going.

The (P) style drives the process of finalization. If you want to really get somewhere turn to the “doer,” the task-oriented person who will show displeasure with the “wondering around” and will suggest and insist on doing something.

Is there another prescription?

Yes.

Some discussions are cul-de-sac discussions. The group goes around and around and repeats itself. Nothing new is being learned.

In that case, as a leader, it is your role to bite the bullet and take a stand. Finalize but be open to changing your decision if it turns out that it does not work. Schedule a time when the decision will be reviewed so everyone knows it is not set in stone but open for review. Those opposed to the decision will go along, at least for the time being. The time you give yourself to review your decision must be sufficient to check if the decision really works. Do not replant your tree too often or it will die.

You might, however, find that the disagreement with your conclusion is very strong and the above solution is not flying. Time to do dialectic convergence and get to the roots of the conflict. That, however, calls for another blog.

Just thinking,

Ichak Kalderon Adizes

Founder and CEO, Adizes Institute Worldwide

* See Ichak K. Adizes, Management/Mismanagement Styles: How to Identify a Style and What to Do About It(Santa Barbara, Adizes Institute Publications, 2004), PDF e-book.