High Velocity Leadership: Slow Down to Speed Up

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“Don’t just sit there; do something!” How many times have we heard that statement? We are driven to take action before we know what action to take. The popular view is that that if we are not doing something, we are wasting time or resources. Action is seen as the remedy to any situation, but is action really the answer?

While coaching business owners, I see a familiar pattern emerge. The visionary leader issues a directive and expects the staff to jump into action and implement the idea immediately. Because the visionary has been shaping and refining the idea for weeks, it is clear in the visionary’s mind, but the staff has just been broadsided with the directive and hasn’t had time to digest it or prepare for it. Bowing to the boss’s wishes, the staff scurries to implement the directive post haste. The fire drill approach is rarely successful and the business would be better served to slow down and move forward with a thoughtful and deliberate implementation.

Slow down to speed up. Take time out to remember that the role of leadership is facilitating long term results while building the capability for sustained results. Leader’s lay out the vision, ensure systems are created to execute and create a culture; a climate for people to thrive so that the people can execute the plan.

gear shift


Recently I came upon a pseudo-Buddhist graffito that read, “Don’t just do something – sit there!” That viewpoint is counter to our fast paced, competitive, action- oriented culture. Yet, if you are willing to let go of the gnawing, urgent need to act and instead tap into the limitless recesses of your mind, you will actually move forward at a faster rate.

So what do you contemplate when you tap into your inner Buddha and “sit there”?

Ask yourself these 7 questions to pull your mind out of the impulsive, primitive and reactive brain into the higher-functioning, logical, creative, and problem-solving arena of you mind:

1. What is the end result I seek?
2. Am I acting out of judgment, anger, resentment, or impulse?
3. Is there a gap in the current process that has caused this issue? Will everything calm down if I just give it more time?
4. How will this action impact other areas of the company, team, etc.?
5. Is it best to delegate this action? If so, who is the best person to complete the action?
6. What resources ( tools, people, and processes) are necessary to move efficiently?
7. For the long term perspective, ask yourself, “If my approach to this situation was to be described in an article on top leadership, what I would want the article to be titled?

The leader’s value lies more in ensuring meaningful, long-term results and less in stirring up short-term activity. To provide more effective leadership, take 3-5 minutes out of the chaos of your day and “sit there”, and ask yourself the questions above. The outcome will be a stronger, more sustainable business and a calmer, more focused execution. Slow down to speed up the process. As a result you and others will be more energized, engaged, and focused.

f1 carsEven F1 racers slow down at the curves. Is your business curvy?