When the list of qualities of managers and leaders is read out, it is unlikely that the skill of procrastination will be near the top.
Indeed, for many, the very thought of failing to act in a timely manner would be tantamount to one of the lower scores in their performance review.
To ensure that things get done, it is always vital that action takes place. Overly deliberating before making a decision is, in many – indeed most – eyes a failing in a manager and one that is to be ironed out and erased from anyone in such a role.
Yet there is a case to make for procrastination, in a very specific circumstance. One that many managers would do well to consider in their armory of management tools.
When employees take the step up into a leadership role, they very often need to set aside their previous skillset. Being a capable member of a team delivering creditable task-based contributions is one thing, but leading people is very much something else.
A role that is focused to get the best out of others means that many of the tasks that were previously undertaken need to be weaned off, because being an individual contributor and being a leader are very different.
So, how can procrastination help?
When a new leader steps up, there are many new challenges to face. Far from having a very linear role of delivering a performance that is easily measured by the number of widgets produced that month, the results obtained are through others, rather than by yourself.
In many ways it would be tempting to carry on as before, being involved in the tasks where the comfort zone is, but your life has changed as a leader. It is time to step back from being a doer, to being a doer through others.
That is your new role.
So, on those occasions where you find your people come to you for solutions, you will need to begin to appreciate that you need to be cautious about simply fixing them any more. For now your more important role is to help their problems for themselves.
Developing Others is Your Role
This might be through coaching them; maybe through guiding them; perhaps through finding someone else to support them.
It’s time to step back and failed to find the solution immediately just because you know it. In this case there is no doubt that such procrastination will help.
See it as an act of responding – rather than reacting – to a situation in a constructive way. And a way which will develop others rather continually fixing things for them.
For now is the time to step back from your initial ‘savior’ role and react to their needs. It is time to wait, think and then proceed from the vantage point of your new leader role.
To do this, you can lean on procrastination to help you sometimes.
For if you take a little time to think about the way you need to respond, rather than by knee-jerk, you may find that your procrastination leads you to a different route forward.
Firstly, you might start to practice some of those new found leadership skills, like delegation; like coaching; like helping them to think and help themselves.
And, even more interestingly, by a cheery, ‘Leave that with me and I’ll come back to you shortly’, you might find that your people, bored with your slow response, might even find the solutions to the problems for themselves, rather than depend on your to do their work for them.
Which is a win for you; a win for them as they build confidence and capability through your tardiness and overall a win for your organisation, as all of your people skill up and make decisions for themselves.
Procrastination – in some situations – really does rule. It requires management and consideration.
And it does work!