I heard a common complaint from a mid-level executive today: "Its really hard to get closure on any decisions around here." I wondered whether the chief executive understood the level of frustration. Was the CEO the problem, or were decisions getting bogged down in the bureaucracy, even before getting to the top? In many cases, decisions get derailed by silo rivalry, dysfunctional team dynamics, and leaders who are conflict averse. As a result, people can't seem to achieve closure on key decisions.
What should a chief executive do to determine if this closure problem is slowing down his or her firm's ability to compete effectively in the marketplace? I believe they should occasionally slice through the organization's layers and ask a simple question of mid-level managers? "Are you waiting excessively for certain decisions to be made by senior executives?" If the answer is yes, then the CEO must trace the flow of a few sidetracked decisions to diagnose the problem. If many mid-level managers express the same frustration, then the CEO knows that the firm has a broader cultural problem; it's not just a few poor leaders here and there.