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Don’t mix up an indecisive boss with a no-decision boss

The environment of a no-decision manager is similar to the one of an indecisive manager. Some decisions are made some of the time with both of these manager types.  The indecisive manager makes their decisions too slowly and too late. The no-decision manager searches for people to make decisions in their place: usually their boss or their subordinates so decisions come intermittently.  In addition, they both use the simple decision avoidance tactics to avoid or delay decision-making.

So, don’t leave it to chance, you MUST make a final verification that your boss is a real no-decision manager, before you decide on the next step: making decisions in their place.

Indecisive bosses are like normal managers, they do not accept that subordinates jump in to make their decisions. If you do this, they will most likely consider the initiative to be insubordination.  This is proof that the boss is NOT a no-decision manager, simply an indecisive one, but it is too late, the damage has been done.

Indecisive bosses need help to make their decisions. They might be afraid to decide, or afraid to hurt someone with their decision, or they are looking for the perfect decision which doesn’t exist. Once a subordinate has learnt what the indecisive boss needs, then he or she can help, and with the help indecisive bosses decide. When this happens, you know your boss is an indecisive manager and not a no-decision manager.

After this, the only way to make sure that your boss is a true no-decision manager is a two step process. First see if any of your colleagues working with your boss are making their decisions and talk to them. Some may own up and tell you, but I have found that most colleagues working for no-decision managers do not talk about making decisions for their boss. 

If this doesn’t work, choose a minor decision that your boss should make and make it yourself. But warn him or her beforehand that you are going to make it and see what their reaction is. If the boss is an indecisive manager a discussion will start on the process of decision-making and delegation. If the boss is a no-decision manager nothing will happen: no discussion, no comment, there will probably be a pause followed by a change of subject. You know then that your boss is a true no-decision manager and you are free to make their decisions.

When a subordinate decides to make decisions in the place of the no-decision boss, I call it ‘enlightenment’. It is the second subtitle of my book: ‘Become an enlightened subordinate of a no-decision boss’. The no-decision manager on the other hand, is actively searching for people to make decisions in their place. I call this ‘deviated delegation.’ But they do this without a direct request and without talking about it.

No-decision managers will never say:

“Hey, I am a no-decision manager and never take decisions. Can you take this decision in my place?”

or even more simply,

“Could you decide for me?”

They never talk about their lack of decision-making to anyone. They need someone to jump in and make decisions in their place. It doesn’t matter what the decision is. That is not important. What is important is that a decision is made quickly and by someone else.

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