The Procrastinator

With the Procrastinator, nothing is ever final until after the project, decision or event is well in the past.  Procrastinators have trouble making decisions, and once they do decide, their people quickly learn no decision is forever -- there being a constant risk of the item being dredged up, reconsidered and reversed.

A typical time arc for a project in the Procrastinator's organization might included the following: an initial review with a tentative decision, but certainly a demand for more data, a series of further reviews, where there is still no decision, but during which the direction becomes a bit more clear (although often different from the original direction), and ultimate closure of the project prior to actual implementation.

Procrastinators tend to flip-flop on their decisions, talking themselves into alternately approving and disapproving various company actions.  They seem to suffer from a difficulty to commit to any course of action without perfect information.  As perfect information is rarely available in the real world, they tend to take the pulse of those above them in the organizational hierarchy (perhaps a board member, or a more senior officer of the company) who has a poorer perspective on the situation, just to make sure they know which way the wind blows.  If and when the procrastinator finally does decide, it is often to err on the side of conservatism, killing off new ideas or concepts.  From the perspective of an individual advancement, it will appear it must run a gaunlet of potential reviews, where any one of them being decided against will spell the end of the initiative.

At the core of this indecisiveness, appears to be a fear of making a wrong call -- and since mistakes are generally punished more than successes are rewarded, the procrastinator is forever holding out the option of pulling the plug on any remotely controversial or questionable initiative.

Employees find this leadership style provides an unstable footing for their work.  It is difficult to build upon new ideas, as the old decisions which might provide their foundation never appear to be behind them.  Sponsors of new initiatives tend to find themselves constantly defending past work, trying to hold onto meager gains, rather than advancing the organization.  The braver sponsors tend to "ask for forgiveness, rather than permission", putting themselves in personal situations which are highly risky, especially given the bent of their leader.

Ultimately the organization stagnates.  Fairly obvious decisions are left dangling, and too many projects are rejected.  The organization becomes focused on what it takes to get the approval of the leader, rather than what is right for the business.  The best and most innovative employees become frustrated and leave, or are discouraged and simply stop trying to offer ideas.

An organization can persist in this state for quite a long time, if the industry is mature, slow to change, and there are no nimble competitors nipping at their heels.  The employee's best bet in dealing with a procrastinator is to out-last and out-endure.