Do You Follow These Contrarian Tips for Leadership Focus?
21 Jan

Do You Follow These Contrarian Tips for Leadership Focus?

Here’s a leadership insight that seems to run contrary to much of conventional wisdom. In today’s lightening fast business environment, be wary of speed. When haste makes waste it doesn’t win the race. That’s why I’m advising all of my executive coaching clients to slow down to the speed of predictable success. Otherwise you may only wind up making make mistakes faster than you normally do. You don’t get points for pressing the accelerator all the way to the floor if the vehicle you’re driving wrecks before the finish line. Every leader wants 2020 to be the year they prove themselves with a high-performance, accelerated-productivity team. But many will go so fast they’ll neglect what really matters in the final analysis.

Proof of Concept

That doesn’t mean you should be a nitpicky perfectionist. Sometimes you don’t have time to get everything exactly right. If couples waited for the perfect time to have a child, when they had all the resources in place, they’d never become parents. But you do need to look before you leap. Build strategic planning, preparation, and reflection into your leadership process. Otherwise you’ll work harder and faster and get worse results.

In today’s lightening fast business environment, be wary of speed. When haste makes waste it doesn’t win the race. Click To Tweet

That’s not just my opinion, it’s been proven. Harvard Business School researchers studied hundreds of companies where leaders embraced a full speed ahead, go-go style. You may be surprised to know that the approach resulted in substantially lower sales and profits. But then they analyzed results from businesses that encouraged a more thoughtful and reflective strategy. Overall, those companies boosted sales by 40 percent, and profits rose by more than 50 percent.

Operational Speed vs. Value Delivery Speed

The goal of good leadership is to increase how quickly you can deliver real value to your organization and your customers. That’s different than just rushing products and services out the door. You want to move initiatives forward in a timely manner. You need to meet your deadlines and outpace your competition.

But if you try to do that by cutting corners you’re only going to slow yourself down. Another way speed slows you down is when you don’t stop to figure out what you did right so that you can replicate the process next time. Or if you don’t slow down to listen to new ideas that could potentially deliver breakthrough innovations.

Applying these Principles

Ask any carpenter and they’ll tell you that the number one rule they follow is to measure twice before cutting a piece of lumber once. That reduces waste, enhances quality control, and gets the house built faster than it would if you failed to focus on doing it correctly the first time. That’s what ultimately determines who has the fastest speed in the race to capture the market.

Always set aside sufficient time to allow your teams to train, learn, and engage in continuing education. Do the same for yourself, to constantly upgrade your leadership game. Reflect on performance and how it is generated by better teamwork and organizational alignment. Streamline your process with a healthy balance of thoughtful planning and analysis and efficient productivity. Invest time wisely and cultivate strong, strategically focused corporate DNA that makes you unstoppable.

Signs You Need to Slow Down

Too often, leaders apply for a position before they take time to qualify for it, and they get rejected. Or they are given the responsibility and immediately flame-out, setting their career back in a painful way. They might promote themselves with an off-the-shelf brand, instead of doing the deep internal work required to develop a genuinely unique identity. You can’t replace bad habits overnight or cultivate a new mindset without deliberate practice. Authentic leadership is a cumulative experience. You need to add to it every day as a lifelong learner.

Sarah’s Acceleration Tips

To figure out where to slow down in order to strategically speed up, ask yourself:

  • When last year did we go too fast and later realized that it cost us time and efficiency in the long run?
  • What are 3 ways that going slower to get it right may speed up my team’s overall productivity?
  • In which areas can training and development have the greatest impact on 2020 results?

Give your leadership potential the respect and attention it deserves. Take the time to nurture your value and guarantee that 2020 is your career milestone year.

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Sarah Hathorn
Sarah Hathorn, CEO of Hathorn Consulting Group, is the go-to-expert in working with leaders and companies to create successful corporate DNA. As an executive coach, consultant and speaker she collaborates globally with clients and brands such as Kimberly-Clark, Sherwin-Williams, Home Depot and other leading organizations.
Sign up today to get my newsletter, Corporate DNA for leadership articles on how to maximize your talent pipeline, develop & enhance leadership capabilities, inspire and influence to communicate top results and much more, visit www.hathornconsultlinggroup.com

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