“I wish I knew what they were thinking.” “I wish they would make a decision.” “If they change their mind one more time…” Have you ever had these thoughts with the leadership in your organization? While these are common, the question that needs to be answered is why are leaders this way?

Why do they “ride the fence?”

The main reason I believe leaders ride the fence is for self-protection. They put their needs first, which are often in direct opposition to what is best for the people of the organization or the organization as a whole. While they feel like the “have to” make a decision at the end, it only protects themselves.  Most of the time it is to save face. I also believe insecurity is the underlying foundation to people who look to self-protect themselves first (I will write about insecure leadership in the future). Leaders with insecurity issues are only for themselves. They are desperate to keep their power and the appearance of control.

When a leader’s actions do not match their words; riding the fence occurs. No one likes “ride the fence” leaders, and it does not take long to figure out who rides and who does not. All you have to do is look at their butt (see last sentence in bold at end of blog). But who are these leaders and what are their characteristics?


“Ride the fence” leaders have…

One group hears this and another group hears that. This and that are not the same. What is said is what the leader thinks each group needs to hear.

Like it or not, it exists. The problem with this is leaders will go to their “favorite” people to get their input. Most of the time, they already think like the leader, or they would not be the favorite.

When a leader sits on the fence, it is because they do not want to be on one side or the other. They just sit there not deciding at all, hoping that “whatever” will work itself out.

I like to call these characteristics the “if-i” of riding the fence. When leaders ride the fence, their leadership is always “if-i” do this or “if-i” do that. While it is good to weigh options and gather facts to make a decision, nothing of value comes from being an “if-i” leader. Please get off the fence and be who you need to be for your people not for yourself.

One thing is for sure, when you ride the fence, you are going to get splinters.


©2018 J Clay Norton

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