It’s a phrase I heard several weeks ago that has stuck with me. In a time and culture that seem to be demanding urgency and quick decisions, it feels somewhat counterintuitive. We’re facing staffing shortages while making health safety decisions for our employees and clients. Work life and personal life are bleeding together in unprecedented ways. So many things seem to be forcing us to make decisions quickly and act with deliberate speed.
There may be times that require haste. Yet, the more I think about it, the more I agree that what our teams actually need from us is to slow down.
In fact, as the way we work changes dramatically, I would argue that the way we lead needs to change as well.
So, what does it mean to lead slowly? Demands aren’t going to go away with your decision to lead differently; having clarity about the why and how of your leadership choices is extremely important.
To lead slowly means:
- We identify our true north, our purpose, and the values we want to guide us along the way. Then, we hold on tight. We ruthlessly protect the way that we come to a decision, sometimes at the expense for the speed of the decision. We take the time necessary to let our values serve as a filter for our choices.
- We stop talking and start listening. As a society we’ve all but lost our ability to inquire rather than advocate, but without it, we miss the problem underneath the problem.
- We gather data and feedback first, then we make a move. It’s never wise to make significant decisions without the perspective of others, especially members of our team. Collaboration is truly a hallmark for leading slowly. It allows people who are lost in their virtual offices to find a voice at the table, and it almost always allows for a viewpoint that’s different from the leader.
- We slow the pace for our team. Everyone’s exhausted. They’re balancing the new demands of the marketplace with new health and education decisions for their families, among many other things. It’s unreasonable to think we can demand an unrelenting pace while maintaining the excellence we strive for. The leader sets the tone, and by slowing down yourself, you give permission to the rest of the team.
I’ve done this work long enough to know there are some of you out there who believe this doesn’t just feel counterintuitive, it feels wrong. If you find yourself in that place, I encourage you to ask yourself why. Spend some time in reflection and actually experiment with another way of leading. This doesn’t mean every decision, every day, is slow. It means we’re intentional about our pace. It means we become a learning leader, an “I’m here for you” leader. A leader worth following.
If you’re looking for guidance in your attempt to lead slowly, you’re in the right place. Participants in our limited-space flagship program, Milestone Leadership Intensive, have the opportunity to define their own personal values. They receive guidance and reflective space to determine what values they want to guide them on the road to becoming a leader worth following. If you or someone you work with could benefit from unique insight designed to unleash leadership capabilities, we are reserving seats now for our immersive November 9-12, 2021 Intensive.
Written by: Stephanie Brown, Operations Manager – Milestone Leadership